Good Wednesday morning. Breaking: NBC has fired Matt Lauer for what it says was “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” More to come.
As some consumers move away from sugary sweets like M & Ms and Snickers, Mars is buying a minority stake in a maker of snack bars that uses ingredients like quinoa and amaranth. Mars’s investment in Kind gives the smaller company a valuation of more than $4 billion — five times its value three years ago.
Their shared goals: Expand Kind from being a snack maker into a health-food empire, and expand its international sales.
“Job No. 1 is taking it global. Job No. 2 is, what other categories either are we already in, or we can easily get into, that meet the Kind promise?” Grant F. Reid, the Mars chief executive, told Andrew in an interview.
The numbers: Kind’s 2017 sales thus far are close to $720 million, according to Euromonitor. It’s the third-biggest snack-bar brand worldwide, behind Nature Valley and Clif Bar.
The back story: Kind’s founder, Daniel Lubetzky, had been considering selling a minority stake — but was interested primarily in staying private. Mars, one of the biggest privately held American corporations, had long been interested in striking up a partnership. And, given its deal-making history, Mars could end up owning Kind outright down the road.
Today’s DealBook briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Amie Tsang in London.
The Justice Department has argued in its lawsuit to block the $85.4 billion Time Warner deal that putting together AT&T, which owns DirecTV and provides broadband internet service, and Time Warner, which owns HBO and Turner channels like TNT and CNN, puts too much power in one corporation.
But AT&T said in a court filing that it is battling tech giants with plenty of negotiating leverage. Google’s YouTube, for instance, began life without any Time Warner networks, suggesting — to AT&T, at least — that channels like TNT, CNN and TBS were inessential.
Another key part of AT&T’s filing
To show that it would not abuse any increase in power that buying Time Warner would afford, AT&T said that it had offered rival distributors the same sort of deal that the government allowed in the last big vertical media merger, Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal.
• Letting rival video providers make use of arbitration in any dispute involving Turner’s channels.
• Preventing Turner from shutting down its service, or “going dark,” in the case of any dispute. Recode points out that the concession is a big deal.
The AT&T flyaround
• Days before the government’s lawsuit, AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, met with the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, to offer one last peace proposal. (Bloomberg)
• Mr. Stephenson will speak at the Economic Club of New York today at noon, and his talk will be livestreamed. (Economic Club of N.Y.)
A tax overhaul proposal emerged from the Senate Budget Committee after two notable Republican dissidents, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bob Corker of Tennessee, said their concerns were resolved.
Mr. Corker, who objected to how much the plan would add to the national deficit, said that details of a provision, that would reverse tax cuts if economic growth fell short of expectations, would be released tomorrow, according to Politico.
But such a provision worries Republican colleagues like John Kennedy of Louisiana, who told the NYT, “I’m just not too excited about this idea of automatically tying our hands.”
The Washington flyaround
• President Trump is fighting with Democratic leaders as the government prepares for a potential shutdown when its funding expires on Dec. 8. (NYT)
• The White House is finding rare common ground with Democratic lawmakers like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio on issues like free trade. (WSJ)
The gross settlement is about 100 billion euros, or $119 billion, though Britain plans to say that it will ultimately pay about half of that when all is said and done. The Telegraph says that the exact amount will be calculated when Brexit is finalized.
From reporting by Alex Barker and George Parker of the FT:
What still needs to be resolved: Two other big issues need to be worked out before Prime Minister Theresa May presents the offer next week. What authority will the European Court of Justice have over the 3.2 million European citizens now living in Britain? And what kind of border will Northern Ireland have with Ireland, its southern neighbor?
Reports of progress pushed up the value of the British pound this morning to about $1.34.
The opposition to the F.C.C.’s plans to repeal the Obama-era regulations has included more than 200,000 phone calls placed to Congress and about 500,000 comments on the F.C.C.’s website.
“There doesn’t seem to be middle ground on this issue,” John Beahn, a lawyer at Skadden Arps who specializes in regulation, told the NYT.
Ajit Pai criticizes Twitter: The F.C.C. chairman attacked the social network for harshly regulating conservatives’s accounts, apparently referring to its new policy of suspending and de-verifying some white nationalists and far-right users, according to the WaPo.
Critics’ corner, F.C.C. edition
• Farhad Manjoo writes, “The internet doesn’t have to be a corporate playground. That’s just the path we’ve chosen.” (NYT)
• Ben Thompson writes, “To believe that Chairman Pai is right is not to be against net neutrality; rather, it is to believe that the FCC’s 2015 approach was mistaken.” (Stratechery)
Xavier Rolet is leaving, weeks after TCI Fund Management, a big investor in the stock exchange, warned that he was being forced out. His departure comes months after regulators had blocked the market operator’s plans to merge with Deutsche Börse.
But TCI is also getting something that it had wanted, sort of: Donald Brydon, the L.S.E. chairman whom the fund wanted replaced, said that he would step down in 2019.
But it’s bound to get messier. While a federal judge has denied an emergency request by the agency’s deputy director, Leandra English, to stop Mick Mulvaney from taking over as acting director, her lawsuit is likely to proceed.
While Mr. Mulvaney sits in the director’s seat, however, he can do a lot to hobble an agency that he has derided as a “sad, sick joke.” He has issued a 30-day freeze on issuing any new rules or regulations. And experts say that he can abandon investigations or shrink the bureau’s budget, according to the WaPo
How else to describe the decision by the judge overseeing the company’s court battle with Alphabet’s self-driving car unit to delay the trial? He did so after discovering that Uber had not produced a letter that he said was potentially relevant evidence.
Here’s what Judge William Alsup said, according to Cade Metz of the NYT:
What was in said letter: Assertions by a former Uber employee to the ride-hailing giant’s deputy general counsel that the company had an internal team that was responsible for efforts “to evade, impede, obstruct, influence several ongoing lawsuits against Uber.” And it used anonymous servers and apps with self-destructing messages to avoid creating paper trails.
An Uber spokeswoman said that nothing in the letter affected the merits of the lawsuit.
The Uber flyaround
• Uber lost $1.46 billion in its third quarter this year, according to unidentified people. (Bloomberg)
• Benchmark and Menlo Ventures have said that they plan to sell some of their holdings as part of SoftBank’s tender offer for Uber shares. (Reuters)
• JPMorgan Chase has hired Sunghman Seo, formerly a senior executive at Deutsche Bank, as the head of its payments and business transformation unit for Europe, the Middle East and Asia. (FT)
• Anthony Scaramucci decided to step down from the advisory board of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy after several weeks of conflict with students: “It’s a school of law and diplomacy. I thought it was a diplomatic thing to do to bow out.” (NYT)
• Cineworld, a British operator of movie theaters, is in talks to buy Regal Entertainment Group for about $3.6 billion in cash. (Reuters)
• Siemens is preparing a listing for its health care business, estimated to be worth as much as $47 billion, and it is leaning toward New York as the location, according to people familiar with the matter. (WSJ)
• Andy Rubin, who created Android and was an executive at Google for nine years, left the company in 2014 after an internal investigation determined that he had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, according to three people familiar with the matter. (The Information)
• Stripe and Instacart scored the lowest marks on The Information’s ranking of private tech companies that rated them based on their corporate governance. (The Information)
• Wilbur Ross wrote to the Office of Government Ethics to say that estimates of his wealth reported in the news media were not accurate and that the correct figures were in his public financial disclosure report. (Business Insider)
• The Supreme Court seemed ready to narrowly interpret a federal law protecting whistle-blowers, barring many retaliation suits from people who assert they were fired for reporting wrongdoing. (NYT)
• Jerome Powell’s confirmation hearing was a placid affair, in which he avoided commenting on tax legislation and what the Fed would do if inflation didn’t rise. (NYT, Bloomberg View)
• Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in redeveloping its Seattle campus, even has Amazon hunts for a second headquarters away from the region. (NYT)
• Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, is raising up to $100 million for a hedge fund that will primarily invest in cryptocurrencies. (Axios)
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