Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Natalie Portman’s ‘all-male nominees’ comment didn’t improve the Golden Globe picks for Best Director this year, Victorina Morales comes forward as an undocumented immigrant working at a Trump Golf Club, and we learn more about Huawei’s recently-arrested CFO. Have a fantastic Friday.
• CFO in custody. Stock markets across the globe plummeted yesterday—the FTSE 100, for instance, had its worst decline since the U.K.’s Brexit vote. What caused the global tumble? According to some analysts it came down the circumstance of one woman: Meng Wanzhou, CFO of China-based Huawei.
Meng, reportedly in her late 40s, was arrested in Vancouver on December 1 as she changed planes at the airport there. She was detained at the request of U.S. authorities who want her in connection with Huawei’s alleged violation of sanctions with Iran. China has demanded her release and accused the U.S. and Canada of violating her human rights. News of her arrest late Wednesday seemed to signal an escalation in tensions between China and the U.S, even after their stated trade war truce, and markets ran scared.
It’s important to know that this isn’t the U.S.’s first tangle with the Chinese tech behemoth. The U.S. has long suspected Huawei of posing a security threat, alleging that its equipment could be used for spying by the Chinese government and warning its allies to be wary of the firm. Huawei has denied these claims.
Huawei is notoriously secretive but Meng has, in recent years, emerged as one of its few public faces. She’s the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army, who in 1987 founded the company that’s since grown into a giant telecoms supplier.
Though she started as a receptionist at Huawei in 1993, rising through the ranks, Meng made a sort of public debut in 2013 as the firm’s newly-appointed CFO, presenting financial information to the media. (The company is private but reports some annual results to investors.) At the time, she revealed to Chinese media the rather intimate detail that the bond with her father had evolved from warm to businesslike as Huawei ballooned in size.
But perhaps the most intriguing thing about Meng’s tenure at the firm is that Huawei watchers had pegged her as a CEO successor to her 74-year-old father, given her CFO role overseeing the company’s finances—including $47.2 billion in revenue in the first half of this year. Fueling the rumors was Meng’s appointment this year as Huawei deputy chairwoman, a move that put her alongside three rotating chairmen who all have bid to follow Ren as chief executive.
Ren himself tried to dispel that speculation, telling employees that his successor would not be a relative. In a 2016 speech, Meng touted Huawei’s meritocracy. “It’s not a competition who your father and mother are,” she said.
Her future—as Huawei’s next CEO or not—is now uncertain as she remains in Canadian custody. Huawei has said it’s not aware of any wrongdoing by Meng and that its systems comply with current regulations. She faces a bail hearing today.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
•UN-usual pick. Bloomberg reports that President Donald Trump has settled on a nominee to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the UN, and it’s State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, long-rumored to be a favorite. Nauret, a former Fox News anchor, is an unusual choice given “that she had little experience in government or foreign policy before joining the administration in April 2017,” as Bloomberg puts it.
• Board-backed. Despite still-swirling criticism of Sheryl Sandberg’s involvement in directing staff to research liberal billionaire George Soros and in a PR firm’s anti-Semitic framing of his criticism, Facebook’s board of directors stands behind the COO’s conduct. “When a well-known and outspoken investor attacks your company publicly, it is fair and appropriate to do this level of diligence,” said a letter sent by Facebook’s general counsel to Soros’s foundations on behalf of the Facebook board.
Wall Street Journal
• And the nominees are… The first set of nominations are in as awards season kicks off, and no women were chosen as Best Director picks for the Golden Globes. (That follows last year’s broadcast, when Natalie Portman said, “And here all the all-male nominees” while introducing the category.) At least Sandra Oh is hosting!
The Hollywood Reporter
• Referendum results. Ireland’s lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday officially making abortion legal. The law was passed seven months after voters chose to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion—but lawmakers introduced some caveats. There’s a three-day waiting period, and after 12 weeks, abortion is only legal when the woman’s or child’s life or health is at risk. Meanwhile, the surprisingly troubled movement to eliminate an article in the Irish constitution that says women shouldn’t work under economic duress because it would lead to a “neglect of their duties in the home” took a step forward.
New York Times
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Grand Reserve Inn and board member at DocuSign, will become chairman of the board at the company, while Cynthia Gaylor of Pivotal Software joins the board. Kathy Kraninger was confirmed as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Carrie Ann Inaba replaces Julie Chen on The Talk, following Chen’s departure in the midst of sexual misconduct allegations against her husband, Les Moonves. Wanda Phillips was promoted to North America regional head of entertainment for Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty. Claire Darling was hired as VP of global marketing at Intapp. Lucia Grillo will be the first head of U.S. operations at ad agency mcgarrybowen.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• Morally bankrupt. USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy after months of fallout over its inaction and cover-up of Larry Nassar’s abuse of young gymnasts. Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Randles pointed out on Twitter that filing for bankruptcy as part of resolving sexual abuse claims was also a strategy used by the Weinstein Company.
Wall Street Journal
• Resignation accepted. Larry Wallace worked for Sen. Kamala Harris when she was California’s attorney general and followed her to the Senate. He resigned this week because of allegations of sexual harassment that date back to the AG’s office. Harris’s office said she didn’t know about the allegations until now.
• ‘Making President Trump’s bed.’ Victorina Morales has worked as a housekeeper for more than five years at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey. She’s also an undocumented immigrant—and she decided to share her experience cleaning his residence while hearing his anti-immigrant rhetoric.
New York Times
• FTSE falls short. The 100 biggest listed companies in the U.K., known as the FTSE, were each supposed to have at least one director of color on their boards by 2021. But at their current rate of progress, the companies won’t meet the government-backed goal until 2066. That stands in contrast to British companies’ progress toward ensuring women hold a third of board positions by 2020.