Good Tuesday morning. The official in charge of regulating virtual currencies in South Korea (where Andrew is this week and was expecting to write about the regulation of Bitcoin) was found dead at home on Sunday. Just in: Walmart’s fourth-quarter earnings missed expectations. Its shares were down in premarket trading.
My latest column, on how banks and credit card companies could restrict support of gun sales in the wake of last week’s school shooting, has stirred up chatter in the business world. I’ve heard from people throughout corporate America overnight since it was published. Many said privately that they want to look at what they can do.
More from the column:
Elsewhere in gun regulation: President Trump expressed some openness to tightening background checks.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in Pyeongchang, and Michael J. de la Merced and Amie Tsang in London.
Days after Rob Goldman, its vice president of advertising, tried to clear up misconceptions about the company’s role in the 2016 presidential election, Facebook still finds itself in hot water. President Trump took the tweets as proof that Russia didn’t try to help him win, while critics said they contradicted Robert Mueller’s indictment.
Mr. Goldman apologized in an internal Facebook post. But his tweets — which contained inaccuracies — suggested that Facebook executives still don’t understand how central the company was to Russia’s misinformation campaign, according to Nicholas Thomson of Wired.
More from Kevin Roose of the NYT:
Josh Hendler, the former head of tech for the Democratic National Committee, told the WSJ, “It was an almost perfect example of Silicon Valley overconfidence and lack of sophistication when it comes to politics.”
The tech flyaround
• One sign of how highly Google and Facebook value A.I.: The researchers sit near their C.E.O.s. (NYT)
• Is Google’s ad blocker for the Chrome browser good for the web? (NYT)
• Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, toured San Francisco to promote her city’s tech bona fides. (WaPo)
• And Washington has granted Elon Musk’s Boring Company permission to do a little digging. (WaPo)
• Snapchat and Nike’s partnership during the N.B.A. All-Star Weekend highlighted the social network’s future in e-commerce. (Recode)
• Sony is planning an A.I.-based ride-hailing system for Tokyo. (Reuters)
With Qualcomm raising its offer for NXP to $127.50 a share from $110, it may have finally found a way to beat back its persistent and unwanted suitor. Broadcom has said a higher NXP bid would be a deal-breaker (as of this morning, however, Michael hears that it isn’t clear whether it will walk away).
The new offer may have come at an opportune time: I.S.S., the influential proxy adviser, recommended that Qualcomm shareholders vote for four of Broadcom’s six board nominees. (But that too falls short of Broadcom’s goals. The company’s C.E.O., Hock Tan, has said he would walk away if the entire slate wasn’t elected.)
A question: Elliott Management, which campaigned against the $110-a-share offer, is on board with the new one. But will Qualcomm’s shareholders accept paying more for NXP?
The deals flyaround
• Albertsons plans to buy Rite Aid to better compete with Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens. (Albertsons)
• BHP Billiton’s C.E.O. will meet with Elliott Management to discuss changing its corporate strategy. (Bloomberg)
• SoftBank wants a seat on Swiss Re’s board as part of any minority investment. But Patrick Jenkins of the FT ponders whether Masa Son can become a digital Warren Buffett.
• The marketing company Engine Shop has bought T Burns Sports Group, the consultancy founded by Terrence Burns, who worked on eight winning Olympic and World Cup campaigns, including Pyeongchang’s. (Sports Pro Media)
• How Spotify’s privately traded shares could influence its direct listing. (WSJ)
• The head of Arcadia, which owns Topshop, denied being in talks to sell it to a Chinese textile giant. (FT)
• ValueAct has bought 5.4 percent of Merlin Entertainments, which owns Madame Tussauds, as U.S. activists continue to seek targets in Europe. (FT)
• Temenos of Switzerland is near a deal to buy Fidessa, a British maker of financial software, for more than £1.3 billion. (FT)
• President Trump has endorsed the Senate campaign of Mitt Romney, whom he once called “one of the dumbest and worst candidates in the history of Republican politics.”
• Public support for the tax overhaul is rising, according to a survey by the NYT and SurveyMonkey. It has also made BlackRock more optimistic about stock prices. Republicans are divided over whether the Office Management and Budget should get involved in tax rules.
• The recent budget deal takes a step toward a federal rescue for as many as 200 multi-employer pension plans. (NYT)
• The Office of Financial Research, Washington’s financial storm forecaster, is foundering. (WSJ)
• How Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, used intimidation, hush money and a top tabloid publisher to protect his client. (NYT)
• The Trump administration is continuing to dismantle Obama-era L.G.B.T. policies. (Politico)
• The California assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a leading voice for #MeToo, has been accused of sexually harassing staffers. (WaPo)
An estimated $201.7 million in three-day ticket sales in the U.S., and $235 million in four-day sales. The fifth-biggest U.S. box office opening ever, not adjusted for inflation. An estimated $387 million in sales worldwide. (Oh, and a soundtrack that’s leading Billboard’s chart.)
Has Disney’s latest blockbuster erased the notion that there aren’t big audiences for movies with largely black casts? More from Brooks Barnes of the NYT:
Random musings (spoilers ahead!): What effect would Wakanda opening itself up have for global trade balances? What would happen to mining stocks? How would its immigration policies work if the country’s ruler says, “In times of crisis, the wise build bridges?” Does Wakanda have its own blockchain technology?
Investors have been held hostage until they paid Bitcoin or Ether ransoms worth millions of dollars, as criminals increasingly target at the crypto-rich. The worst part: There’s no way to halt or reverse a Bitcoin transfer.
Solutions discussed at a recent conference included hiring security, setting up “duress wallets” to fool hostage takers, and keeping Bitcoin fortunes secret.
Elsewhere in virtual currencies: China’s crackdown on crypto hasn’t dented investor enthusiasm there. Prime Shipping Foundation, which struck the first freight deal settled in Bitcoin, plans an initial coin offering And retail investors would suffer most if the digital money markets collapsed, according to S. & P. Global Ratings.
Where Bitcoin is today: About $11,490, according to CoinMarketCap.
• Mark Carney of the Bank of England says Bitcoin has failed as a currency. (Reuters)
• Paul Singer of Elliott Management called virtual currencies “one of the most brilliant scams in history.” (Business Insider)
• Sarah Tavel of Benchmark thinks digital money has a bright future but many I.C.O.s are “complete scams.” (Recode)
• John Flint, HSBC’s incoming C.E.O., is a virtual currency skeptic too. (Bloomberg)
• Deutsche Bank is cutting 250 to 500 investment banking jobs, unnamed sources say. (Bloomberg)
• Bernie Sinniah, Citibank’s global head of foreign exchange solutions, is stepping down after 38 years at the bank. He’ll be replaced by Sam Hewson. (FT)
— Ken Frazier, the C.E.O. of Merck, on why he spoke out against Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to condemn the white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, Va.
• HSBC’s full-year results missed expectations, partly because of the collapses of Steinhoff International in South Africa and Carillion in Britain. (WSJ)
• Private equity bosses face an uncomfortable choice between becoming corporations, potentially bolstering their valuations, and staying as partnerships to keep taxes lower. (FT)
• WeWork’s C.E.O. doesn’t just want to lease communal offices. He wants to transform how people work, live and play. (NYT)
• Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, is considering a contingency plan that would involve holding back billions of pounds in Brexit payments if the E.U. does not give Britain the trade deal it wants, unnamed sources say. (Bloomberg)
• The European Central Bank has asked Latvia to freeze payments to its third-largest lender, ABLV Bank, after the U.S. Treasury Department said it may label the firm a money launderer for North Korea. (Bloomberg)
• Fox News is planning a stand-alone subscription service, available without a cable package. (NYT)
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