Amazon became the market’s latest tech whipping boy yesterday, following a report from Axios that President Trump wants to rein in its growing power. Shares fell almost 5%, knocking $30 billion off its soaring value. While the news report cited multiple sources saying the president is “obsessed” with Amazon—in large part tied to CEO Jeff Bezos’s ownership of The Washington Post—White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said there are no “specific policies on the table at this time.”
And Tesla stock continued to get pounded, tumbling another 8% on reports that the National Transportation Safety Board was looking into the fatal crash last week, and that Moody’s downgraded the company’s credit rating to B3 from B2. Also yesterday, a judge refused to dismiss a shareholder lawsuit related to the company’s acquisition of Solar City.
Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook again went after Facebook, telling tech site Recode that his company “is not going to traffic in your personal life.” The privacy controversy has apparently caused Facebook to delay the launch of its smart home product.
The markets stabilized in Asia and Europe today. More news below.
Facebook has introduced a raft of changes to its privacy practices, in two separate announcements. The first covered making privacy controls easier to find, allowing people to more easily delete their data, and helping them to move their data to a rival service. The second dealt with the elimination of the “Partner Categories” service, which allows data brokers such as Acxiom to offer their customers targeting on Facebook’s platform. The changes may seem like a reaction to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they were necessary anyway, thanks to the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Fortune
CME and NEX
The CME Group wants to buy the British fintech company NEX for $5.5 billion. If regulators and NEX’s shareholders agree, the deal should clear in the second half of the year. Those shareholders would get £5 ($7) in cash per share, plus 0.0444 shares in the U.S. futures trading giant. “At a time when market participants are seeking ways to lower trading costs and manage risk more effectively, this acquisition will allow us to create significant value and efficiencies for our clients globally,” said CME Group chief Terry Duffy. CNBC
Nissan and Renault
Nissan and Renault have been in an alliance for the last decade, but they are now reportedly weighing a full-scale merger. Renault owns 43% of Nissan, and Nissan owns 15% of Renault. They share a chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who is apparently “driving the negotiations,” per Bloomberg. The possible merger comes against a backdrop of massive change in the car industry, thanks to electrification and the shift towards car-sharing. Bloomberg
Airbnb in China
The accommodation platform Airbnb will start sharing information about customers who book places to stay in China with the authorities there. It will also give the authorities access to information about Airbnb hosts. Chinese authorities were already able to request this information from Airbnb, but it will now share the data proactively. The move brings the tech platform in line with rules that already apply to Chinese hotels. BBC
Around the Water Cooler
No Sleep Till Brexit
It is now one year until the U.K. leaves the European Union, and there’s a lot that still needs to be worked out—so much so that retailers are finding it difficult to plan for the future, because they don’t yet know what the future U.K.-EU trading relationship is going to look like. There’s also the problem of the falling pound, which is placing pressure on retailers to raise their prices at a time when Brits don’t have more money. CNBC
The Financial Times has an analysis on the flurry of “mega-deals” (i.e. deals worth more than $5 billion) that are lined up for this year—Takeda and Shire, Concho Resources and RSP Permian, CME and Nex. Data shows the value of these deals is more than three times the levels a year ago. More than half the acquisitions in the first quarter qualified as mega-deals. FT
Korean Air Comeback
KAL Hotel Network, owned by Korean Air, has a new president: Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of Korean Air chief Cho Yang-ho. Cho Hyun-ah is best known for an incident that happened four years ago—she threw a tantrum when an air hostess gave her nuts in a bag rather than a bowl, and forced the stewardess and a male flight attendant to kneel before her, while she beat the woman with a service manual. Having served time for the incident (which sparked a boom in macadamia nut sales), Cho is back in management. South China Morning Post
President Trump has sacked Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and wants to replace him with his personal physician, Ronny Jackson. Jackson is a rear admiral and has been a White House physician for the past three administrations, but he has no apparent management experience. The VA has had big management problems, suffering a shortage of staff who can cope with an increasing number of veterans who need help. Washington Post