Monday, 27th August
Some weekend reading worth catching up on:
First, a fascinating piece on page one of Sunday’s The New York Times about how the Chinese have been assiduously wooing Greece with investment and aid since the financial crisis (and how Greece has been returning the favor by advocating Chinese interests in the E.U.). China is hoping to make the Greek port of Piraeus the “dragon head” of its vast “One Belt, One Road” initiative—which pretty much encompasses the entire world, minus the U.S. “Seen from Beijing,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel says, “Europe is an Asian peninsula.” The story is a stark illustration of why the “anti-globalization” policies advocated by some in Trump’s orbit are so dangerous—coming just as China’s global ambitions are reaching new heights.
Second, a smart piece in the Wall Street Journal on the battle over corporate tax reform. Companies generally favor the plan’s push for a lower corporate tax rate, and a system that allows them to bring home overseas profits without paying full U.S. taxes on top of foreign taxes. By making it easier for companies to bring home overseas profits, the plan could provide funds for U.S. investment. But by removing the penalty companies potentially pay on overseas profits, it also could encourage companies to move more operations overseas. To address that problem, Republican tax writers are considering a “minimum tax” on worldwide earnings. But that’s causing a backlash from the likes of Eli Lilly, United Technologies, UPS and others. The story shows just how difficult it is going to be to get big business united behind a tax plan. And if big business isn’t united, the plan’s already uphill climb becomes significantly steeper.
Finally, Uber’s board voted to name Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as the company’s next chief executive. Former GE CEO Jeff Immelt pulled his name out of the running for the top job at Uber on Sunday, via Twitter.
More news below.
• Uber Taps Expedia CEO
The board of Uber voted to appoint Dara Khosrowshahi, currently CEO of online travel company Expedia, as the ride-sharing startup’s new CEO. The move comes roughly nine weeks after co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned in late June following a string of scandals at the company. Uber’s board had reportedly been deciding between Khosrowshahi and Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman on Sunday, with former GE CEO Jeff Immelt having taken himself out of the running. Wall Street Journal, subscription required
• Hurricane Harvey Flooding Likely to Cost Billions
The Category 4 hurricane that ripped through Texas this weekend is already known to have caused multiple deaths from the storm itself and the massive flooding that followed, while thousands of Texas residents have been forced to evacuate. The storm also shut down one quarter of the oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, and it may be too early to know how much Harvey will burden Texas’s huge energy industry. But, at least one disaster model predicts that the storm could bear an economic cost of at least $24 billion, especially due to the fact that a large number of victims lack adequate insurance. Bloomberg
• CBS Pushes into Australian Streaming Market
CBS reached a deal to buy struggling Australian broadcaster Ten Network for an undisclosed amount. CBS beats out a rival attempt led by News Corp co-chair Lachlan Murdoch to take over Ten, which also rejected a takeover bid from Time Warner in 2014. The deal would give CBS a better foothold in Australia, where the company will be able to use Ten’s digital network Tenplay to launch its own subscription streaming service, CBS All Access, in the country. Reuters
• Hackers-for-Hire Startup Picks New CEO
Bugcrowd, a leading crowdsourced cybersecurity firm, will name a new CEO on Monday. Outgoing chief executive Casey Ellis told Fortune of his move to step aside and become chairman and chief technology officer. Taking over in his stead will be Ashish Gupta, formerly executive vice president of cybersecurity company Infoblox. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Google Issues Ad Refunds for Fake Traffic
Google has reportedly refunded hundreds of ad purchases that resulted from fraudulent traffic, with the bulk of the clicks in question being attributed to automated “bots” rather than humans. Most of the refunds involve video advertisements, though Google has only been able to pay back a small portion of the original spending, as much of the money has already made its way to site owners and middlemen. Fortune
• Perfumania Seeks Bankruptcy Protection
Perfumania, the mall-based fragrances retailer, filed papers over the weekend seeking chapter 11 protection. The company plans to shutter 64 of its 226 stores as part of the bankruptcy process, while eventually reorganizing the business around its best-performing locations. WSJ, subscription required
• Taylor Swift Broke Spotify’s Streaming Record
Spotify said that pop star Taylor Swift’s latest single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” set a new record with the most streaming plays in a single day on the service. The song, which is the first to be released from Swift’s upcoming album “Reputation,” was played 8 million times around the world on the first day it was released. Fortune
Summaries by Tom Huddleston Jr. firstname.lastname@example.org