DealBook Briefing: Will We See More Trump Trade Deals?

Good Wednesday morning. Mark Zuckerberg agreed to testify to Congress. And SoftBank and Saudi Arabia are planning the world’s largest solar energy project. Some links require subscriptions.

Why the first Trump trade deal may not lead to others

President Trump has scored a significant trade deal with South Korea.

But with Mr. Trump preparing to meet with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un — who just took an armored train trip to Beijing — and the North apparently pressing on with nuclear developments, an “America first” trade stance was far from the only thing pushing the South to sign. More from Michael D. Shear and Alan Rappeport:

The Trump administration continues to ramp up its trade rhetoric with China. Unidentified sources told Bloomberg that it is considering invoking an emergency law to restrict Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. tech. A separate plan to enact tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods has left companies wondering which industries will be targeted. Other Asian countries increasingly fear being caught in the crossfire of a trade war, the WSJ reports.

And nations are already reacting to Trump’s trade moves, erecting barriers to stop the steel and aluminum that faces tariffs in the U.S. being dumped in their markets.

Against this background, NXP sold its 40 percent stake in a Chinese joint venture on chip design.


Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Chad Bray and Amie Tsang in London.


A reality check for tech?

Companies like Facebook, Amazon and Alphabet have delivered some of the best returns to investors in recent years, powered by the achievements and the promise of social media and artificial intelligence.

But that confidence is evaporating, as investors brace for intensified regulatory scrutiny across the industry. Tech stocks took a pummeling yesterday and in early European trading.

Twitter dropped 12 percent after Andrew Left’s Citron Research said it was shorting the company.

Critic’s corner: The “sector’s growing clout over everyday life also raises the risks of what can go wrong,” Dan Gallagher argues at WSJ’s Heard on the Street.

Mark Zuckerberg will face the music

The public outcry over Facebook’s data and privacy settings has grown loud enough that Mark Zuckerberg now says he’s willing to testify to Congress. The company is on a hiring spree for lobbyists, too, and unnamed sources say it’s putting off the promotion of new home products.

The man who started all this, the Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie, spoke to British lawmakers on Tuesday and revealed that an employee of Palantir Technologies had suggested that Cambridge Analytica build an app to gain access to Facebook networks. Palantir was co-founded by Peter Thiel, who sits on the Facebook board.

Separately, New Zealand’s privacy commissioner has accused Facebook of breaking a law by refusing to give a man information about him held in other users’ accounts. Fair housing groups are suing over ad targeting, saying Facebook still lets advertisers discriminate. And three Facebook Messenger users are suing on privacy grounds.

The self-driving slowdown continues

Nvidia — the chip maker whose autonomous-vehicle technology is used by Volkswagen, Tesla, Audi and hundreds of other firms — said it would halt its own tests on self-driving cars, after an autonomous Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Its shares dropped 7.8 percent.

Here’s Roger Lanctot, an automotive technology analyst with Strategy Analytics:

Tesla also tumbled 8.2 percent, after the National Transportation Safety Board said it was conducting its second crash investigation of the year involving one of the company’s cars. There’s also anxiety about whether it will hit production goals.

Uber said it would not renew its California permit for self-driving vehicle tests until investigations were complete in Arizona. And it’s facing questions over a decision to scale back on safety sensors.

But Waymo said it still intended to put thousands of self-driving cars — customized Jaguar I-Paces, to be precise — on the road over the next two years.

Critic’s corner: Timothy B. Lee argues in Ars Technica that Uber should sell its self-driving project, which needed a firm with a “methodical, safety-oriented culture.”

The tech flyaround

• Uber has settled a discrimination lawsuit from three female software engineers for $10 million. (Recode)

• Ransomware has hobbled the city government in Atlanta. (NYT)

• Apple unveiled a new iPad aimed at classrooms, where Google has raced ahead. (NYT)

• Oracle won a federal appeal in its multibillion-dollar copyright infringement claim against Google, in a way that could make software developers easier to sue. (WSJ)

• Google bought the GIF platform Tenor. (Verge)

• Snapchat is building a way for people to use their account with third-party apps, Facebook-style. (Recode)

• Robert Mercer, of Renaissance and Cambridge Analytica fame, is also a volunteer police officer in Lake Arthur, N.M. (Bloomberg)

The Washington flyaround

• The former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens has called for the Second Amendment to be repealed, in an NYT Op-Ed. Bloomberg looked at how the bankruptcy of the gun maker Remington Outdoor would affect the people suing it for as much as $500 million. And the N.R.A. said it accepted funds from foreign sources, but did not spend them on election campaigns.

• At least 12 states say they would sue if the Trump administration seeks to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. A less accurate census — if, say, fewer immigrants were to respond — could distort both government spending and the House of Representatives.

• The F.B.I. found continuing ties between Russian intelligence and a business associate of the former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to court documents filed by the special counsel’s team. (WaPo)

• A Republican plan for the midterm elections: more tax cuts. (Politico)

SoftBank and Saudi Arabia team up to build a solar park

The $200 billion solar power project would be the largest in the world and could help Saudi Arabia lessen its dependence on oil.

But Jenny Chase, head of solar analysis at BNEF, told Bloomberg: “It is worth noting that many of these memorandums of understanding do not result in anything happening.”

Saudi officials were in New York as part of a tour by Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who spoke to the NYT, urging a tough line on Iran. And Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund said it was considering opening offices around the world.

Deals flyaround

• Takeda Pharmaceutical said it was considering a bid for Shire that could improve its position in drugs for cancer, gastrointestinal disease and nervous system ailments. (Bloomberg)

• Potential bidders for GlaxoSmithKline’s health nutrition business could include Nestlé, Kraft Heinz and Unilever, unnamed sources say. (Reuters)

• The real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield is interviewing I.P.O. advisers, unnamed sources say. (Bloomberg)

• Tyson Foods has hired Goldman Sachs to explore the sale of its pizza crust business. (FT)

• In a cross-examination during their big merger case, the lead lawyer for AT&T and Time Warner pushed back against the description of Time Warner’s content as “must-have.” (CNN)

• The Carolina Panthers football team could fetch a record sale price of about $2.5 billion. (NYT)

Publishers’ #MeToo dilemma

Books are on hold and deals are being canceled as the publishing sector grapples with accusations of sexual harassment by authors and others.

But the response has not been universal, as publishers weigh lost profits against reputational risks in an industry dominated by women.

Separately, former employees at Wynn Resorts said that managers had for years ignored or dismissed complaints about Steve Wynn’s conduct toward women. A former Miramax employee appeared before British lawmakers today to seek a change in the law on nondisclosure agreements.

The speed read

• The chief executive of Deutsche Bank, whoever it is, will face a challenge regaining investors’ trust: its share price is less than 40 percent of the net worth stated on its balance sheet and it relies a lot on potentially unpredictable Wall Street revenue.

• Wu Xiaihui, former chairman of the Chinese insurer Anbang, went on trial in Shanghai. (FT)

• A key player at the birth of Berkshire Hathaway’s health venture with Amazon and JPMorgan: the Berkshire investment manager Todd Combs. (Bloomberg)

• The former Lloyds Banking Group chief Eric Daniels has won a legal battle over a bonus worth $2.1 billion. It was withheld from him after the bank needed a government bailout. (Times of London)

• Netflix’s talent hunting is pushing up Hollywood salaries. (Bloomberg)

• How much would a Warren Buffett investment help G.E.? (Bloomberg Gadfly)

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