Top C.E.O.s Head to Riyadh: DealBook Briefing

• Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist

Many of the attendees will be hoping to get some of the billions that Saudi Arabia is investing with outside money managers — and Blackstone has been busy grabbing its share. Mr. Schwarzman explained to Andrew Ross Sorkin the world’s interest in partnering with Saudi Arabia, saying, “Saudi Arabia is moving aggressively to diversify its economy and implement important reforms.”

Worth noting: The Public Investment Fund has been troubled by disappointing investments and has struggled to calculate its own value, WSJ reports. The fund has been pushing back against parts of a deal with SoftBank that could cut Uber’s value and force the fund, which invested $3.5 billion in Uber last year, to take a loss.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal speaks:

The well-known Saudi investor said on CNBC that he opted to back Lyft because he thought Uber was too expensive. He also said that he remained optimistic about his investment in Twitter:

“It’s not going to be easy because now they’re facing some difficulties. But our entry point was very reasonable so right now it’s holding our break-even point.”

And Prince Alwaleed appears to be siding with Jamie Dimon on the Bitcoin debate. “I just don’t believe in this Bitcoin thing,” the prince told CNBC. “I think it’s just going to implode one day. I think this is Enron in the making.”

Is Trump the biggest obstacle to a tax overhaul?

It doesn’t help that the president repeatedly undercuts Republicans’ initiatives, like when he tweeted that he would oppose limits on 401(k) investments.


The struggle: With all the tax cuts being proposed, the government would need to make up for some of that shortfall somewhere. “You are trying to stuff a $4 trillion or $5 trillion tax cut in a $1.5 trillion box,” Stephen Moore, who was an economic adviser to Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, told WaPo.

Mr. Trump’s tendency to make unpredictable responses has confounded lawmakers who are counting on his support. The president “can shift on a dime, and he has many unformed policy positions,” Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania, told the NYT.

What it means: Some of the proposed tax cuts may have to be temporary to comply with the arcane budget rules that would let Republicans pass their tax plan without any support from Democrats. Businesses in particularly aren’t happy with that kind of uncertainty.

Global deal making isn’t dead yet

A majority of the 100 bankers, lawyers and other advisers surveyed recently by the Brunswick Group think that cross-border mergers activity will rise over the next 12 months. (To be fair, that comes after a 7 percent decline in such deals in the first nine months of the year, compared with the period last year.)

Brunswick released the results of its survey ahead of Stanford’s sixth annual XBMA Symposium, which is centered on cross-border M. & A.

More findings:

• Respondents said they expected China and the United States to be the biggest acquirers of overseas assets.

• Major political factors that could clamp down on cross-border deals include limits on Chinese acquirers; “Brexit” and the North Korean standoff; and a more nationalistic American stance on foreign takeovers.

The Weinstein Company is under civil investigation

The New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has opened an inquiry into the embattled studio and whether allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment against Harvey Weinstein reflect broad gender discrimination and other civil rights violations. The inquiry will also examine whether the company bears financial responsibility for any misconduct.

Civil investigations of this kind have proved costly for companies in the past:

In 2015, ConEd was required to pay $3.8 million to hundreds of female employees after an investigation by the attorney general and federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found violations of sexual discrimination and harassment dating back nearly a decade. (NYT)

Employees of the Weinstein Company are calling for it to release them from their nondisclosure agreements so they can openly discuss what it has been like to work there. Zelda Perkins, a former Miramax employee, broke her contract to talk to The FT about her experience, saying she wanted to show how secretive legal processes were used to silence victims of sexual harassment:

“Unless somebody does this there won’t be a debate about how egregious these agreements are and the amount of duress that victims are put under.”

TPG Growth investing in data start-up with African roots

Gro founder and C.E.O. Sara MenkerCredit Gro Intelligence

By investing in Gro Intelligence, which collects and analyzes agricultural data from what it says are trillions of data points, TPG Growth is continuing to pour money into businesses based in, or focused on, Africa.

TPG Growth, which has already invested in five companies across the continent, has been betting that business will pour increasingly more money into Africa. Gro, which is based in New York and Nairobi, Kenya, says it wants to become a Bloomberg of agricultural data, using cloud computing to analyze disparate sources.

• Sara Menker, Gro’s founder and C.E.O., said in a statement: “We want to be a leader in the $5 trillion global agricultural industry.”

• Yemi Lalude, the managing partner for TPG Africa, added: “This deal highlights the rich opportunities that exist to invest in early-stage technology companies that have a presence in Africa, but can also operate successfully on a global level.”

Ray Dalio is worried about the wealth gap

He wants people to look at what’s happening economically to the bottom 60 percent of the United States population by wealth, because using average statistics could make the economy look healthier than it really is.

Mr. Dalio explained in a LinkedIn post:

“That could lead the Fed to run an inappropriate monetary policy. Because the economic, social, and political consequences of an economic downturn would likely be severe, if I were running Fed policy, I would want to take this into consideration and keep an eye on the economy of the bottom 60 percent.”

Amazon counts its suitors

All 238 of them.

Applicants to house its second headquarters came from all but seven American states. Here’s a map of the places trying to woo Amazon.


Those courting the retail company will have to wait a little longer. Amazon said it would announce its decision next year.

We at NYT have already looked at the options, and found a winner.

T-Mobile and Sprint still waiting to connect

T-Mobile announced its earnings yesterday, and Sprint is scheduled to announce its results today. Yet there’s still no word on when the two may strike a deal. (In fact, T-Mobile avoided holding a call with analysts in part to avoid being asked questions it can’t — or doesn’t want to — answer.)

The answer: The two sides are still in talks to strike an all-stock merger that would create a new publicly traded company with T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, as the controlling owner. We hear that early to mid-November — and possibly as late as Thanksgiving — is what the deal teams are working toward.

Revolving Door

Hong Ge, the head of Airbnb’s China business, has left just four months into the job. (Bloomberg)

Chip Blankenship, the chief executive of G.E.’s appliances division, will become chief executive of Arconic, after Klaus Kleinfeld left following a clash with Elliott Management. (FT)

The Speed Read


• Commerzbank, the second-largest listed lender in Germany, is working with Goldman Sachs and Rothschild as it prepares for potential takeover bids from European rivals. (FT)

Policy and Legal

• The Treasury Department said a rule on arbitration that would allow millions of Americans to band together in class-action lawsuits against Wall Street firms could trigger frivolous lawsuits and drive up the cost of credit. (NYT)

• The Justice Department will limit its use of secrecy orders that prevent internet providers from telling people when the government has obtained a warrant to read their email during an inquiry. (NYT)

• As investigators in Washington examine the scope and reach of Russian interference in United States politics, the once-cozy relationship between the news channel RT and YouTube is drawing closer scrutiny. (NYT)

• European Union investigators searched the offices of Daimler and Volkswagen as part of an inquiry into allegations of illegal collusion by German carmakers. (NYT) Separately, Volkswagen won approval from environmental regulators for the United States and for California to make fixes to more than 38,000 diesel-powered vehicles it had rigged to dupe emissions tests. (WSJ)

Banks and Banking

• A former HSBC banker was found guilty of defrauding a client in a $3.5 billion currency deal. (FT)

Money Managers

• The Baupost Group has acquired the majority of a $2.2 billion claim that two South Carolina utilities had against Toshiba Corporation after the bankruptcy of the Japanese company’s Westinghouse nuclear power subsidiary, according to people familiar with the matter. (Reuters)

• Elliott Management has pushed for the British medical device maker Smith & Nephew to shed parts of its business to become a better takeover target. (FT)

Business and Economy

• General Electric’s quarterly earnings were so bad that it risked being excluded from the Dow Jones industrial average. (NYT)

• China is asserting its authority over private business in new ways, but it has also tried to assure entrepreneurs because unease in the private sector could become a problem for Beijing as it seeks new ways for the national economy to grow. (NYT) There is already concern that efforts to take on environmental pollution could slow such growth. (NYT)

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