DealBook Briefing: T-Mobile and Sprint Are Trying to Win Over Washington. Will They Succeed?

Good Monday morning. Just in: The WSJ reports that banks and credit card companies are “discussing ways to identify purchases of guns in their payment systems” as a possible prelude to blocking such sales. That’s similar to a proposal Andrew has laid out for ways financial firms could limit gun transactions. Some links require subscriptions.

Is the third (or fourth) time the charm for Sprint and T-Mobile?

Yesterday’s rollout of T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion bid to buy Sprint — the companies’ latest merger effort over the years — showed that both wireless carriers are laser-focused on winning over regulators. Their main talking points: Together they can build a robust 5G wireless network, keep prices low for consumers, and create jobs — particularly in rural areas. And the wireless market won’t be a three-company business, with Comcast and others trying to break in.

Whether they will succeed is another matter. Michael and Cecilia Kang point out that while the F.C.C. commissioner, Ajit Pai, has signaled an open mind toward mergers, many antitrust staffers at the Justice Department are the same people who opposed the deal in 2014.

A preview of Andrew’s column on the deal, which will go up this morning:

More on the T-Mobile-Sprint deal: SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son, who controls Sprint, finally gets the merger he has long craved, but walking away from talks last year cost him dearly. Customers shouldn’t expect their phone bills to go up — at least, not right away.

Critics’ corner: The proposed transaction carefully targeted everything President Trump likes, according to Jennifer Saba of Breakingviews. If the deal fails, T-Mobile has a bright future, but Sprint doesn’t, Tara Lachapelle of Gadfly writes.


Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Amie Tsang in London.


What’s on tap at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference

The gathering reliably draws leaders from Wall Street, Hollywood and sports to Los Angeles to discuss trade, health care, investing and more. This year’s conference will touch on hot topics like the trade tensions between the U.S. and China, the #MeToo movement, the planned talks with North Korea, and the backlash against Silicon Valley.

Attendees include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Tim Sloan of Wells Fargo, Leon Black of Apollo Global Management and Eric Schmidt of Google.

Among today’s sessions are a survey of the markets that includes Mike Corbat of Citigroup, and a broad discussion of global affairs that includes David Solomon of Goldman Sachs. Make sure to check DealBook for highlights.

Are the U.S. and Europe are on the brink of a trade battle?

Come 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, temporary exemptions expire for President Trump’s imported steel tariffs. That includes the E.U., Canada and Brazil. And for the E.U. in particular, no further extension means that the political bloc “should be ready to decisively defend its interests within the framework of multilateral trade rules.” (Which sounds a lot like a trade war.)

Axios reports that key Trump economic officials are split on what to do: Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow want to provide extensions to give negotiations more time, while hard-liners like Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser, are opposed to such a move.

Just in case, industrial companies are stocking up on steel and aluminum.

Elsewhere in trade: John Bolton, Mr. Trump’s new national security adviser, suggested that the U.S. won’t offer sanctions relief to North Korea until the country commits to nuclear disarmament. Labour lawmakers pressed the British government to more closely scrutinize whether I.P.O.s are being abused by Russian oligarchs.

The political flyaround

• Meet Richard Uihlein, the shipping supplies magnate who has become one of the most prolific Republican donors around. (WaPo)

• Richard Cordray, the former chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is battling Dennis Kucinich for the mantle of more progressive Democrat in the race for Ohio’s governorship. (NYT)

• How the public relations executive Ronn Torossian became omnipresent in various story lines in the Trump universe. (Politico)

• Sajid Javid has replaced Amber Rudd as Britain’s home secretary. Ms. Rudd quit late yesterday, amid growing criticism over her handling of a damaging immigration crisis. (NYT)

“The blockchain will belong to the Russians.”

So declared Gigory Marshalko, an F.S.B. agent who lead Russia’s delegation to the International Standards Organization. It’s the latest sign of the interest of countries like China, Britain and the U.S. in blockchain, which lies at the heart of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin — and in controlling the technology’s evolution.

The worries of some critics, according to Nathaniel Popper:

Elsewhere in tech: Amazon has asked candidates for its second headquarters how they plan to deal with increased traffic and housing demands. How using Tesla’s Autopilot cost a British man his driving privileges for 18 months. Tesla burns through about $6,400 every minute. Regulators are worried about how dependent banks are on the cloud.

The deals flyaround

• J Sainsbury will buy Walmart’s Asda for about $10 billion to create Britain’s biggest grocery chain. The move is likely to face close scrutiny by Britain’s competition regulator. It’s also a sign of Walmart ceding ground internationally (except in India, where it’s pursuing a deal for the e-commerce company Flipkart).

• In pursuing acquisitions abroad, Japanese companies like Takeda Pharmaceuticals are fulfilling the promises of “Abenomics.” (FT)

• Marathon Petroleum is said to be set to buy Andeavor, a pipeline and refining company, for over $20 billion. (WSJ)

• A New York Supreme Court judge temporarily blocked Fujifilm’s merger with Xerox on Friday, after activist investors sued to block the deal. (Reuters)

• CVC Capital Partners has reportedly approached WPP about buying its Kantar market research unit. (FT)

• Prologis agreed to buy DCT Industrial Trust, an industrial real estate investment trust, for about $8.4 billion in a bet on growing demand for warehouses. (WSJ)

• Du Xiaoman Financial, a financial services business spun from Baidu, has drawn a $1.9 billion investment from TPG and the Carlyle Group. (WSJ)

Nike shows the cost of harassment on business

The exodus of executives amid revelations of a toxic corporate culture have shaken up the athletic giant. But critics interviewed by the NYT said that systemic mistreatment of women also cost Nike traction in a huge product category: women’s products, the fastest-growing part of the market.

More from Julie Creswell, Kevin Draper and Rachel Abrams:

Elsewhere in harassment news: Steve Wynn has sued a former Wynn Resorts employee for defamation, accusing him of spreading false allegations of sexual misconduct in news reports. Tom Brokaw angrily denied harassment allegations against him in an email to confidants.

Revolving door

• Aramco added Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, the former Sunoco C.E.O., to its board as its first female director. (WSJ)

The speed read

• Samsung plans to drastically simplify the conglomerate’s ownership structure, loosening ties with the Lee family. (WSJ)

• A fire broke out over the weekend in a 33-floor building in Baku, Azerbaijan, that was once a Trump-branded tower. (NYT)

• Bob Dylan has a new gig: making whiskey. (NYT)

• Noble Group’s fight for survival has moved to the courts, with firms like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank listed as defendants in a legal battle with the dissident shareholder Goldilocks Investment. (Bloomberg)

• Owning real estate in limited liability companies protects property owners, but it has also turned out to enable problematic behavior, like laundering money or being a bad landlord. (NYT)

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