FORTUNE’s Brainstorm Tech gets going this afternoon, forcing me once again to do hardship duty in Aspen, Colorado.
This year’s program will be a grand tour of the landscape of the new industrial revolution, which is sweeping through virtually every company in virtually every industry. On tap are executives managing the transformation of big, legacy companies – including Dan Ammann of General Motors, Robert Iger of Disney, Charles Koch of Koch Industries, Dave Brandon of Toys “R” Us, Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt, and Beth Comstock of General Electric – as well as executives of big tech companies helping to drive that transformation – such as Chuck Robbins of Cisco, Diane Greene of Google, Peggy Johnson of Microsoft and Dan Schulman of Paypal. We’ll also have a small mountain herd of Unicorns past and present – including Drew Houston of Dropbox, Adam Neumann of WeWork, John Zimmer of Lyft , James Park of Fitbit, Jason Robins of DraftKings, and Aaron Levie of Box.
I’ll report back with highlights from this remarkable conclave tomorrow morning — provided I survive the 12-mile bike ride up to Maroon Bells. You also can follow the proceedings, which last through mid-day Wednesday, on fortune.com .
More news below. And for those of you over 45, I’d recommend reading Jeff Sonnenfeld’s provocative piece on Silicon Valley’s Peter Pan Syndrome, here.
Wal-Mart is to offer free shipping with no minimum purchase on all online orders for five days starting on July 11, stepping up its battle against Amazon.com’s highly publicized shopping event “Prime Day”, which is slated for July 12. This will be the second annual Prime Day for members of the $99 shipping and digital content service that has turned into a crucial part of Amazon’s growth plan. In 2015, Amazon generated more sales on its first Prime Day than on Black Friday. Wal-Mart’s reaction is an attempt to take a slice of that fast-growing online sales piece during the middle of the year, keep its customers from straying and attract new shoppers to its online platform. It’s also part of Wal-Mart’s broader strategy to strengthen its e-commerce business at a time when its online sales growth is slowing. Sales through the company’s website and mobile app increased 7% percent in the latest quarter compared with 17% a year earlier.
• China’s Saber Rattles
Days before a key tribunal ruling on the South China Sea, Beijing’s navy has been sallying forth in search of people against whom to defend itself. Warships from the navy’s north, east and south fleets carried out the country’s biggest ever live-fire drills on Friday as part of a week-long exercise aimed at showing how seriously China intends to pursue its territorial claims on disputed islands in the world’s most important sea-lane. The U.S. has bolstered its presence in the region recently, sending three destroyers to patrol near the disputed Scarborough Shoal and Spratly Islands. The UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to rule against China Tuesday in a suit brought by the Philippines that challenges its claims and related actions, such as the stationing of air-defense systems on the Paracel Islands earlier this year. China has refused to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction and said a ruling against it “will increase tension and undermine peace in the region.”
• Thin Air for Plane Makers
The world’s biggest airshow opens in Farnborough in England, with Boeing and Airbus expected to compensate for signs of a slowdown in new orders with some meaty projections for future demand (Boeing estimates total demand worth $5.9 trillion over the next 20 years). Shares in the two big airliner makers have both fallen this year after a stellar six-year rally, amid concerns that they will struggle to meet mountainous delivery commitments to customers. One interesting side-issue today, given the current circumstances, is that Boeing is to double its workforce in the U.K. to 4,000 (most of them service-related). The two parties also inked deals for the delivery of nine new P8 maritime patrol aircraft, and for the upgrade of 50 Apache attack helicopters.
• Mixed Messages from Westminster
There are some mixed messages coming out of the U.K. Conservative Party’s top brass this morning. On the one hand, Treasury chief George Osborne is on Wall Street to talk up how Britain “is open for business”, pointing up last week’s proposal to cut the basic corporate profit tax rate to 15% (see his guest column in the WSJ here). He’ll also host his counterpart Jack Lew in London later this week for talks focused on closer economic ties with the U.S. and other NAFTA members. Meanwhile, Theresa May, the bookies’ favorite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister, is promising a crackdown on the “privileged few”, with tighter control of executive pay and a promise of workers’ representatives on all company boards. The contrast is as good a summary of the competing pressures on post-Brexit policy-making as you’re likely to get in one day.
Around the Water Cooler
• Stocks Set to Test Record Highs
The S&P 500 looks set for another run at an all-time high Monday after the U.S. posted the biggest monthly gain in employment in eight months. Wall Street had given up some initial gains on Friday on the perception that one data point doesn’t make a boom (Fed funds futures still only imply a 24% risk of a rate hike this year), but markets around the world are being lifted by other consideration. In Japan, the Nikkei rose 4% after Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party scored a big win in upper house elections, smoothing the way for more fiscal stimulus. After the bell Monday, Alcoa will kick off the second-quarter earnings season, and are expected to show a fourth straight quarter of falling profits, according to Reuters. By the same token, bond yields have hardly retreated from their record lows, an indication of how wide and deep-rooted uncertainty is among global investors.
• Line Prices IPO at Top of Range
What better time to float a Japanese tech business? Messaging app firm Line Corp priced its initial public offering at the top of its (upwardly revised) marketed range, putting it on track to raise as much as $1.3 billion and reflecting robust appetite for the world’s biggest tech listing this year. Line set the IPO price at 3,300 yen per share, compared with its book-building range of 2,900-3,300 yen, a filing with Japan’s finance ministry showed on Monday. Line, owned by South Korea’s Naver Corp is set for a dual New York and Tokyo listing this week, debuting on Wall Street on Thursday. The IPO will raise funds for a global expansion outside its key markets of Japan and Southeast Asia. The success of the Line app dates back to the aftermath of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami, when it overcame big problems with communications networks. It has grown unexpectedly to become the country’s dominant mobile messaging platform. The bulk of its revenue comes from games and sales of emojis and electronic stickers.
• A Small Country’s Big Win Vs Big Tobacco
Uruguay won a landmark case against Philip Morris International at the World Trade Organization, defending a 2009 law that enforced graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging and restricted differentiated branding. It’s a ruling that will resonate through other, larger emerging markets, which tobacco companies have increasingly relied on for profits as consumption in developed markets declines under pressure from ever-stricter regulation. The number of Uruguayans who smoke has fallen by one-third since 2005, and the number of young smokers by nearly two-thirds. Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had helped to bankroll Uruguay’s defense, called the ruling “a major victory…it shows countries everywhere that they can stand up to tobacco companies and win.”
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