Our interview lineup for DealBook Summit 2023
We’re excited to announce the lineup for the DealBook Summit, to be held at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City on Nov. 29. Andrew will host a series of conversations with the biggest newsmakers in the worlds of business, politics and culture. We hope you will join us.
Elon Musk, the chairman and C.E.O. of SpaceX, C.E.O. of Tesla and chairman and chief technology officer of X
Vice President Kamala Harris
Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California
Lina Khan, the chair of the Federal Trade Commission
Jamie Dimon, the chairman and C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase
Bob Iger, the C.E.O. of Disney
David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Warner Bros. Discovery
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour
Jensen Huang, the C.E.O. of Nvidia
Shonda Rhimes, the television show creator and founder of the Shondaland production company.
We’ll be covering all the news from the summit for our readers. We hope many of you will join us in person. You can apply to attend here.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Wall Street awaits a report on consumer prices. The Commerce Department will shortly release the Consumer Price Index data for September. Economists expect that “core” C.P.I., which strips out food and fuel, rose by 4.1 percent on an annual basis, the smallest increase in two years. High numbers could stoke concerns that the Fed will raise interest rates to tamp down inflation, though many investors are betting it won’t.
Jes Staley, Barclays’s former C.E.O., is banned from Britain’s financial industry. The punishment by the country’s Financial Conduct Authority, which also includes a fine of £1.5 million ($1.8 million), was for misleading the regulator and the bank over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Though Staley publicly played down his ties to the disgraced financier and sex offender, he privately described Epstein as one of his “most cherished” friends.
Goldman Sachs sues Malaysia over a 1MDB settlement. The Wall Street giant sought to take the country’s government to arbitration amid efforts by Malaysian leaders to alter the agreement, which ended an investigation into the bank’s role in a sprawling foreign bribery case. Separately, Goldman sold its GreenSky lending unit at a loss as it seeks to pare down its consumer-finance operations.
Republicans narrowly back Steve Scalise for House speaker. The representative from Louisiana beat Jim Jordan of Ohio in a vote among Republican lawmakers. But a plan to put the decision to a vote in the full House on Thursday was delayed after some of Jordan’s supporters said they wouldn’t back Scalise without concessions.
The U.A.W. expands its strike against Ford. The autoworkers union said its members would walk off the job at a Kentucky plant that makes some of the company’s most profitable models, including a version of the F-Series pickup and the Ford Expedition S.U.V. Separately, negotiators for Hollywood studios suspended negotiations with the SAG-AFTRA actors union, calling its latest demands “untenable.”
Calls for calm at colleges over Israel-Gaza comments
American college campuses have become a flashpoint since war broke out between Israel and Hamas, with business leaders calling out university leaders and students. On Wednesday, Marc Rowan, the C.E.O. of the financial giant Apollo, demanded that the chair and the president of the University of Pennsylvania resign, saying they had tolerated antisemitism.
But other prominent figures — including the former Treasury secretary Larry Summers, who was among the first to rebuke Harvard for being slow to condemn the Hamas attacks — sought to ease tensions in academia over the matter, even as the financier Bill Ackman insisted that the names of students who signed a statement blaming Israel for the violence should be made public.
Rowan urged Penn donors to “close their checkbooks” in protest, until Elizabeth Magill, the university’s president, and Scott Bok, the chair of its board of trustees, step down. Rowan, who gave $50 million to the school in 2018, cited its hosting of the Palestine Writes literature festival last month and Magill’s failure to condemn what he said were antisemitic comments made at the event.
At least one fellow prominent donor has joined Rowan’s call: Dick Wolf, the television producer, who said Magill and Bok “should be held to account.”
The dean of N.Y.U.’s law school repudiated a student’s comments blaming Israel for the attacks, the same day that the law firm Winston & Strawn withdrew a job offer it hade made to the student. (Ryna Workman, the president of the school’s Student Bar Association, had written in the group’s bulletin that “this regime of state-sanctioned violence created the conditions that made resistance necessary.”)
Fallout at Harvard over a student-written letter continues. Several groups that signed the statement, which held Israel “entirely responsible” for the attacks, retracted their support.
Ackman defended his public call to name signatories of the letter, so that employers wouldn’t hire them. “If you were managing a business, would you hire someone who blamed the despicable violent acts of a terrorist group on the victims?” he posted on X.
Some prominent figures are urging leniency for the students. Summers likened such naming-and-shaming to McCarthyism. “I think Bill is getting a bit carried away,” Summers told Bloomberg, referring to Ackman. Jason Furman, a former Obama administration official and economics professor at Harvard, joined Summers in condemning calls to punish the students. He wrote on X that “two wrongs do not make a right.”
In related news: Linda Yaccarino, the C.E.O. of X, outlined the social network’s efforts to remove hateful speech and misinformation on its platform, in response to criticism from the European Union. The E.U. also gave Mark Zuckerberg of Meta 24 hours to respond to similar concerns. And UBS has barred employees from work-related travel in the Middle East.
Caroline, M.B.S. and a Chinese bribe
After two days of bombshell testimony in the fraud trial of the FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, Caroline Ellison will be questioned by his defense lawyers on Thursday.
The highlights of Ellison’s testimony Wednesday included the falsifying of business documents, an attempt to court Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, as an emergency investor and paying a “large bribe” to China.
Bankman-Fried, the 31-year-old founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX and Alameda Research, a hedge fund that Ellison ran, faces criminal fraud charges tied to the implosion of the companies, which cost customers, investors and lenders billions. He has pleaded not guilty.
Ellison, Bankman-Fried’s top adviser and a former girlfriend, is cooperating with the prosecution and is the state’s star witness.
Ellison said she and Bankman-Fried repeatedly lied to customers and business partners. She repeated accusations that Bankman-Fried directed her to plunder customers’ deposits to pay lenders, and she blamed him for the firms’ downfall.
A damning accusation: that he ordered her to create bogus balance sheets which concealed billions in losses. One falsified document was given to Genesis, a crypto firm that was one of FTX’s biggest lenders. “I didn’t want to be dishonest, but I also didn’t want them to know the truth,” Ellison said.
Other revelations from Ellison:
In 2021, the firm had to pay off Chinese officials to reclaim $1 billion in Alameda funds that had been frozen on Chinese exchanges during one of Beijing’s crypto crackdowns. A previous failed attempt to unfreeze the money had involved setting up trading accounts in the names of “Thai prostitutes.”
Seeking a lifeline, Bankman-Fried made a push for Saudi money. He succeeded in getting Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of SkyBridge Capital and an FTX investor, to arrange a dinner with the crown prince last year. Bloomberg notes that Prince Mohammed has never been listed as an investor in FTX.
Despite high hopes, 2023 is not looking like a comeback year for I.P.O.s. Birkenstock, the German sandal maker, was the latest to make a dud of a debut as its shares tumbled on Wednesday.
The U.S. listing fell short of expectations. The stock closed down almost 13 percent, giving the company a market capitalization of $7.6 billion. That’s more than the 4 billion euros that L Catterton, the private equity firm backed by Bernard Arnault’s LVMH, paid for the company three years ago. But it’s the worst trading debut for a U.S. listing of this size since 2021, according to Bloomberg.
Birkenstock was the fourth big I.P.O. in a month. Arm, the SoftBank-backed chip designer; the grocery delivery company Instacart; and Klaviyo, a marketing software firm, have all seen their shares slide since they went public in New York.
LVMH results may have spooked investors. The parent group of Tiffany and Givenchy reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales this week. Given Birkenstock’s reliance on Europe, that would “inevitably” hit sentiment, Javier Gonzalez Lastra of the Tema Luxury exchange-traded fund told Barron’s.
Can Birkenstock regain its buzz? The 249-year-old brand, long known as utilitarian and uncool, has had a fashion upgrade in the last decade — a catwalk appearance at the 2012 Paris fashion week and a “Barbie” movie cameo this summer have helped. Arnault’s golden touch might also be useful: Financière Agache, the Arnault family investment company, agreed to buy up to $325 million in Birkenstock shares, and Alexandre, one of Arnault’s sons, will join its board.
But the experience of two other shoe brands that went public holds a warning: AllBirds and Dr. Martens both had bumper debuts, only for investors to sour on the stocks.
THE SPEED READ
Tweaks to Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion takeover of Activision Blizzard have satisfied the concerns of European antitrust regulators, ending another hurdle to the deal’s closing. (Bloomberg)
HongShan, the Chinese venture capital firm that was split off from Sequoia Capital, reportedly plans to look for investments worldwide and not just in China. (FT)
The I.R.S. says Microsoft owes nearly $29 billion in back taxes, due to an accounting maneuver in which companies base their intellectual capital in low-tax jurisdictions abroad.
The F.T.C. proposed a new rule that would make clear when companies like hotels and live-event organizers add extra charges to their services, as part of a crackdown on so-called junk fees. (NBC News)
The S.E.C. is poised to adopt new rules requiring short sellers to more quickly disclose stock loans, as part of a flurry of new regulations. (FT)
Best of the rest
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