Today, Fortune is revealing its Businessperson of the Year. This is more than a beauty pageant. We start with a very rigorous screening process that includes the 2,000 largest public companies in the world, and we look at their increases in revenues and profits, as well as their stock performance and return on capital, on both a 12- and 36-month basis. The 12-month screen gets more weight, because we value recent performance; but the 36- month numbers help us screen out those who simply may have had one lucky year. And then, of course, we add in a dose of our editorial judgment.
But enough with the windup. This year’s winner is: Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia. He’s not a household name, but given the tear his company has been on in the last few years, he should be. He belongs right up there with the likes of Bezos and Musk. He co-founded the company and has run it for 24 years. Nvidia makes GPUs, or graphics processing units, which power video games but have increasingly become part of the core architecture for artificial intelligence, including in autonomous cars. The company’s stock price has soared 1,271% in the last four years, and it now has a market cap of $130 billion. Huang is a fascinating character; you can read more about him in Andrew Nusca’s profile, here.
The runners’ up for Businessperson of the Year are:
2) Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase
3) Marc Benioff, Salesforce
4) Jeff Bezos, Amazon
5) Mary Dillon, Ulta Beauty
6) Ajay Banga, Mastercard
7) Huateng (Pony) Ma, Tencent
8) Dan Schulman, PayPal
9) Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin
10) Francisco D’Souza, Cognizant
And a clarification from yesterday: Hutchinson China Meditech does expect to become the first company to win U.S. regulatory approval for a synthetic drug discovered and developed in China. But that approval is not imminent.
More news below.
• Peltz Gets the Last Laugh Over P&G
Nothing makes Nelson Peltz’s case for a board seat at P&G quite like the fact that the company declared victory in the proxy battle he launched in pursuit of a board seat before while the votes were still being counted—and the final count shows that Peltz won after all, by the tiniest of margins after a recount. Now the company is hinting it may challenge that result too. Also today, Fortune is publishing Shawn Tully and Geoff Colvin’s look into P&G’s future that is featured in our December magazine issue.
• Not My Tax Plan
Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson became the first GOP Senator to say he’ll vote against the proposed Republican tax package, saying that it unfairly benefits corporations over other types of businesses. Johnson’s main point is that it will erode smaller, private businesses’ competitiveness against bigger, international ones. However, according to the Tax Policy Center, over half of pass-through business income goes to the top 1% of households. That exposes the GOP to charges of pandering to the ultra-rich if it tries to accommodate Johnson.
WSJ, subscription required
• Emerson Sweetens Its Offer for Rockwell Automation Again
Emerson Electric has again raised its offer for Rockwell Automation by 5% to $29 billion, after its first two moves were knocked back. More importantly for Rockwell shareholders, the cash component was raised to 60% of the total, as opposed to a 50-50 split between cash and shares the first time around. The combined company would have a value of over $60 billion and $23 billion in annual revenues.
• Fox Implicated in FIFA Bribery Trial
It’s bad enough that 21st Century Fox had paid out heavily for the U.S. rights to broadcast a 2018 soccer World Cup without U.S. participation. The fact that one of its affiliates has been implicated in the FIFA bribery scandal—making illicit payments in returns for long-term media rights—just makes it worse. And it certainly doesn’t help Fox’s chances of being judged a ‘fit and proper’ owner for Sky Plc, the cornerstone of the company’s strategy for defending its European TV market share against onrushing hordes of streaming companies.
Around the Water Cooler
• Ars Gratia Artis is Latin for ‘Know Your Customer’
Christie’s sold a painting of Christ attributed to Leonardo da Vinci for $400 million. Its $50 million in commissions will plump up the 2017 results nicely after a rough 2016 for the art market. The seller, Dmitry Rybolovlev, was an exiled Russian oligarch with a fortune of questionable provenance. The sale price was four times Christie’s estimate. The buyer was anonymous. Christie’s had to gloss over a lot of questions about the work’s authenticity, not least by putting the 500 year-old painting in a contemporary art sale to minimize scrutiny by industry experts. It’s tempting to wonder what the SEC would have made of it if it had been a financial product.
• Dos Santos Pushed Out
The coup in Zimbabwe overshadowed the big business news in Africa Wednesday. Angola’s Isabel Dos Santos, the continent’s first female billionaire, was fired as CEO of Sonangol a mere two months after father stepped down as president. An accomplished businesswoman, although no doubt helped by a good measure of cronyism, Dos Santos had been installed to stop the leakage of money from the state oil company last year. She and the experts she brought in from Chevron and PWC to stop the rot are being replaced by those who had been kicked away from the trough earlier.
• In Related News
Saudi Aramco’s CEO Amin Nasser told the Financial Times that potential investors in the company’s $100 billion should take heart from the country’s ‘anti-corruption’ drive. The lack of transparency in Aramco’s accounts—a frequent euphemism for embezzlement when it comes to emerging market resource companies—had reportedly been one of the biggest obstacles to getting Aramco the valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had sought for the company, and the question of who gets access to the cash flows from 10 million barrels of oil a day has been at the heart of local resistance to the IPO from the start. Even so, the bankers on the deal will be looking for more than just a change of faces at the top before getting their calculators out again.
FT, metered access
• Truckin’ With Elon
Tesla CEO Elon Musk will unveil an electric semi-truck Thursday in Hawthorne, Calif. It’s his latest expansion of the company’s portfolio beyond passenger vehicles, solar, and energy storage. Never knowingly understated, Musk has promised that “This is no mere ‘truck.’ It will transform into a giant robot, fight aliens, and makes one hell of a latte.”
Summaries by Geoffrey Smith; firstname.lastname@example.org