Wednesday 20th September
It’s U.N. week here in New York, and President Trump greeted the world leaders gathered here with an unvarnished version of his America First message.
“As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, the leaders of your countries will always and should always put your country first,” he said. “All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition.”
Speaking at an Atlantic Council dinner I attended later in the day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau portrayed himself as the anti-Trump, praising the alliances that have “underpinned peace and prosperity since 1945,” calling on all to confront bigotry and fascism wherever it rears its head, and promoting a global trade agenda that does “a better job ensuring the benefits of trade extend to the middle class,” as well as those struggling to join the middle class.
In his speech, Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” and threatened to “totally destroy” his country. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who also spoke at the Atlantic Council dinner and stands at risk of having his country destroyed in the crossfire, managed to avoid mentioning North Korea altogether.
I’m leaving this gridlocked city this morning for San Francisco, where Fortune is hosting another dinner with the city of Guangzhou as part of the run up to the Fortune Global Forum being held in that city in December. You can get information on the forum here.
More news below.
• Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Is Back on
The on-off merger of Sprint and T-Mobile is back on, according to CNBC. According to the report, Deutsche Telekom would emerge from an all-share deal as majority shareholder, with Softbank as a large minority shareholder. If the deal were to go ahead and get antitrust clearance, that would pave the way for France’s Altice to make a move on Charter Communications, which Softbank had also been eyeing as a possible partner for Sprint. Fortune
• Mexico Quake Kills Over 200
An earthquake in central Mexico, which registered 7.1 on the Richter scale, killed at least 248 people. It’s the second quake to hit the country in as many weeks, and comes 32 years to the day after one that killed thousands in the capital. Around 180 flights into and out of Mexico City were cancelled, but the main airport has now reopened. Time
• Unalloyed Pleasure as Thyssenkrupp Forges Steel JV With Tata
India’s Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp are to merger their steel businesses, creating a new number 2 steelmaker in Europe behind ArcelorMittal. The move is a response to sustained pricing pressures caused by Chinese exports, and is expected to lead to significant cuts in capacity and jobs. The deal became possible after Tata agreed to pay some $700 million to restructure its U.K. pension liabilities. Thyssenkrupp’s shares rose 3.6% as it looked forward to spinning off the business which made its founding families famous, but which has been a millstone in recent years. The news also means that the home of the Industrial Revolution will still have a functioning blast furnace – at least until 2020. Fortune
• Good Things Come to Those Who Wait. Well, Partly.
After nearly two years of waiting, Walgreens Boots Alliance received regulatory clearance to buy just under 2,000 Rite Aid stores. The move will widen its footprint in the U.S. and also gives Rite Aid an option to benefit from Walgreens’ purchasing agreements with generic drug makers. Walgreens had initially wanted to buy the whole 4,600-store chain, but had had to pare back its offer on antitrust concerns. Even the final agreement only lets it buy 1,932 stores, rather than the 2,186 it sought under revised offer. Rite Aid’s shares fell 13%, while Walgreens’ rose 1.7%. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Alexa Is in Line for a Pair of Smart Glasses
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is famously unafraid of failure, and determined to extend the reach of his digital assistant Alexa, a tool that holds a bundle of keys to future revenue growth. So it’s maybe not too much of a surprise that the Financial Times is reporting the company is working on a pair of Alexa-enabling smart glasses. Fortune
• Facebook Cleanses Atrocity Reports
Another day, another angle to Facebook’s issues with media. The social network has been removing posts that give evidence of ethnic cleansing against the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and suspending the accounts that have been doing the posting. The company appears to have been unable to distinguish the gratuitous publication of graphic images and bona fide reporting of atrocities. It’s not clear whether there was also pressure from Myanmar’s government to suppress the images, but the story is consistent with the company’s quest to have all of the benefits of the global media business with none of its editorial responsibilities. Fortune
• Power Struggle at Guggenheim Nears a Climax
Mark Walter, the CEO who transformed Guggenheim Partners from a relatively small family office-type investment house into a company with over $200 billion in assets under management, is considering stepping down, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company contested the WSJ’s account. Reports have suggested a power struggle between Walter and the firm’s long-standing Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd. WSJ, subscription required
• Toshiba Commits to Bain
Toshiba‘s board committed to selling its NAND memory chip business to the consortium led by Bain Capital, which also includes SK Hynix, Apple and Dell, for some $22 billion. A formal announcement is being held up because of the need for confirmation from all members of the consortium, Reuters’ sources said. Western Digital, Toshiba’s current partner in the chip JV, is expected to seek an injunction blocking the action in defense of what it sees as its pre-emptive rights to the business. Fortune
Summaries by Geoffrey Smith; firstname.lastname@example.org