2020年1月2日 星期四

DealBook: How Did Carlos Ghosn Flee Japan?

Emerging details suggest that the former Nissan and Renault chairman owes his arrival in Lebanon to an escape plan on a grand scale.
January 2, 2020
… and we’re back! Welcome to 2020 — we’re looking forward to a big year ahead. If you like this email, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And if you have news tips, send them to us. Now, on with the show.
Carlos Ghosn in April.
Carlos Ghosn in April.  Kyodo News, via Associated Press
Carlos Ghosn’s escape committee
The former head of Nissan and Renault managed to evade 24-hour surveillance in Tokyo and spirit himself out of Japan to Lebanon. How he did it increasingly sounds like a movie-level caper.
Associates planned the heist for months, the FT reports, citing unnamed sources. They hired private security operatives who worked in multiple countries.
Mr. Ghosn made it onto a private plane bound for Turkey and arrived in Lebanon early Monday, the WSJ adds. (A Lebanese news media outlet claimed that he had hidden in a box meant for musical equipment; the world’s tabloids, perhaps with an eye on that movie version, reckon it must have been a double bass case.) He entered Lebanon on a French passport.
His Japanese legal team was blindsided. He’d supposedly handed over all of his travel documents. “I want to ask him, ‘How could you do this to us?’” his lawyer, Junichiro Hironaka, told reporters.
It’s unclear whether Lebanon helped. The government there recently asked Japan to send Mr. Ghosn for trial in Beirut on corruption charges. But an official denied any involvement in his escape.
What’s clear is that Mr. Ghosn has scores to settle. His statements have denounced “injustice and political persecution” in Japan’s legal system. He may also take aim at Nissan, where he accuses officials of plotting against him, and at the French government, for not doing more to help him.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Michael J. de la Merced.
  Bryan R. Smith/Reuters
Tempering hopes for the markets in 2020
Last year was a phenomenal one for nearly every kind of investment: stocks, bonds, gold and more. But there’s reason to think this year won’t be as good.
How good was 2019? The S&P 500 rose nearly 29 percent. High-quality American corporate bonds were up 14 percent. Even futures prices for hogs jumped 17 percent. “Rarely in my career has everything worked simultaneously,” Mark Vaselkiv, the chief investment officer for fixed income at T. Rowe Price, told the NYT.
But those outsized gains were mostly thanks to the Fed and its unexpected reversal on interest rates. And the central bank has signaled that it’s probably done cutting rates for now.
That doesn’t mean Wall Street expects bad things. Bank of America sees the S&P 500 rising about 2.2 percent, while Goldman Sachs — which has declared the economy nearly recession-proof — hopes for a little more.
It’s also worth remembering who’ll be left out. Nearly half of Americans don’t own stocks, Thomas Heath of the WaPo points out. Rising student debt and stagnant wages have left many with less money to invest.
Doug McMillon, Walmart's C.E.O.
Doug McMillon, Walmart's C.E.O.  Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The case against C.E.O. activism
Corporate bosses like Walmart’s Doug McMillon and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff have increasingly taken explicit political stands, breaking a longtime rule. The Economist predicts a backlash this year:
• Outspoken companies open themselves to charges of hypocrisy, it says. Take Nike, which has pushed virtuous branding but has also “been embroiled in a doping scandal.”
• “If there is a recession, C.E.O. activists will struggle to reconcile the interests of employees and their fiduciary duty to shareholders.”
• “C.E.O.s hope that by adopting social and political causes they will defuse more radical sentiments. Dream on.”
Warren Buffett agrees. Companies shouldn’t impose their beliefs about what’s best for the world on their investors, he told the FT, since “this is the shareholders’ money.”
And the case for C.E.O. generosity
Andrew writes in his most recent column that corporate leaders should be lauded for giving to worthy causes — but pushed to do better at their companies, too.
• “Do you know who goes to the food banks that so many support? It is not just the homeless and unemployed. It is, many times, the people we all work with.”
• “When you go back to work after the holidays, ask your human resources department what the lowest pay is for any employee at the company. And, just as important, what is the lowest pay for any outside contractor that your company uses?”
• “When it comes to giving, the goal shouldn’t be to simply donate more money, as laudable as that is. The aim should be to create a society where we don’t need places like food banks in the first place.”
In case you missed it
• Boeing fired its C.E.O., Dennis Muilenburg, as it struggles to get the 737 Max airborne again.
• Travis Kalanick quit Uber’s board, ending all ties to the ride-hailing giant that he once personified.
• The F.B.I. is reportedly investigating Ghislaine Maxwell, a top associate of the deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein, and others on suspicion of facilitating sexual abuse.
• How corporate lobbyists won big tax breaks from the Trump administration.
David Stern in 2013.
David Stern in 2013.  Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
How David Stern remade U.S. sports
The former N.B.A. commissioner, who died yesterday at age 77, led the basketball league for 30 years, helping transform American professional sports.
His focus on worldwide marketing and expansion meant that “N.B.A. stars were the first from North America to achieve global renown like their soccer counterparts, with the biggest becoming household names even in the remotest regions of the world,” according to Marc Stein of the NYT.
“Instead of trying to snuff out the rising power of players — an approach that had cost baseball and football hundreds of millions of dollars and huge chunks of seasons — Stern figured out how to embrace the change and capitalize on it,” Matthew Futterman of the NYT writes.
Andrew has his own memories of Mr. Stern: “#DavidStern helped launch my career at 15 years old when he agreed to an interview and he never let me forget it!” he tweeted. “The world lost somebody special today.”
Are job auditions out of control?
The days of getting hired on the basis of a résumé and a few interviews are gone. Job applicants face ever more hoops to jump through, Maridel Reyes of the New York Post writes:
“Interviewers are increasingly making absurd demands on applicants’ time, assigning intensive take-home work to demonstrate skills and show how they’d approach the role for which they’re interviewing,” Ms. Reyes writes.
It often seems that applicants are working for free. Nicole, a strategist in New York, said she had been asked for an entire year’s marketing plan — and was then passed over in favor of an intern at the company. “I was furious that I’d essentially consulted for them,” she told The Post.
Here’s what to do if you’re asked to audition, according to Ms. Reyes: Know what’s normal, do your homework on the potential employer and negotiate the terms of the process.
The speed read
• Last year was the fourth-best on record for global M.&A., thanks to American corporate buyers. (FT)
• A group led by Tencent of China agreed to buy 10 percent of Universal Music Group, whose stars include Drake and Billie Eilish, at a nearly $34 billion valuation. (Business Insider)
• Warren Buffett declined to buy Tiffany & Company, paving the way for the jeweler’s deal to sell itself to LVMH. (FT)
• Hospital chain mergers were meant to improve quality of care. A new study suggests that they haven’t. (WSJ)
Politics and policy
• President Trump said he planned to sign a “phase one” trade deal with China on Jan. 15. (NYT)
• The F.D.A. plans to announce a ban on most flavored e-cigarettes as soon as this week. (NYT)
• A California law that extends legal protections for freelancers like Uber drivers went into effect yesterday. Some workers fear that it will hurt them. (NYT)
• Senator Bernie Sanders disclosed that he had raised more than $34.5 million in the fourth quarter, surpassing his Democratic presidential rivals. (NYT)
• Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon now have a combined market value of about $4 trillion. (Quartz)
• Google said it would stop using an Ireland-based loophole that saved it hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes. (FT)
• An A.I. system from Google is often better at finding breast cancer on mammograms than radiologists are, a study has found. (NYT)
• In South Korea, the 5G wireless future is here, but is often a bit disappointing. (WSJ)
Best of the rest
• In Germany, electric cars are an economic threat. (NYT)
• That said, here are the models to watch this year. (NYT)
• Companies are increasingly forcing workers to train their foreign replacements. (Axios)
• Insomnia could cost you your job. (Yahoo Money)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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