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CEO Daily: Tuesday, May 26

May 26, 2015, 10:57 AM UTC

If you tuned out over Memorial Day weekend, what you missed was a lot of angst over the U.S. strategy to fight ISIS.


Does President Obama have a strategy? His political opponents say no. Others say yes, but it isn’t working. Defense Secretary Ash Carter blamed the Iraqis. “They were not outnumbered,” he said in an interview aired on CNN Sunday about the takeover of Ramadi. “In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight, they withdrew from the site, and that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.”


But don’t expect any new strategy to include a significant commitment of U.S. troops. In his comments yesterday at Arlington Cemetery, President Obama noted this is “the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States has not engaged in a major ground war.” He intends to keep that as his legacy.


Meanwhile, it’s clear Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus has a strategy – to sell his company, for which he will receive $61.5 million in golden parachute payments, according to the Financial Times.



Enjoy the day.



Alan Murray

Top News

 Charter close to Time Warner Cable deal

Charter Communications is reportedly close to paying as much as $55 billion to buy Time Warner Cable, a move that would come roughly a month after Comcast dropped its offer due to regulatory concerns. Any deal comes as cable providers have been hit by a number of competitive pressures, including more younger TV watchers ditching cable packages in favor of streaming services.  Fortune

 Uber's final frontier

Ride-hailing startup Uber is looking at the final frontier to expand its business: picking up passengers at major airports. For now, at major airports in cities including Chicago and Los Angeles, drivers for ride-hailing services are barred from picking up passengers. Some airports are rewriting regulations to welcome all manner of cars, and that could open the door for Uber.  New York Times (subscription required)

 Amazon gives in to pressure

Online retailer Amazon has started to pay more taxes in several European countries where it does business, instead of channeling its revenue through a holding company in the low-tax haven of Luxembourg. A handful of large U.S. tech firms have been criticized for avoiding tax by using that strategy, including Google and Apple.  Fortune

 GM likely to face criminal charges

Federal prosecutors are reportedly likely to bring criminal charges against General Motors over an ignition-switch defect linked to more than 100 deaths, though some key issues still need to be hashed out. Two major sticking points remain: the size of the fine and also whether GM would plead guilty or would enter some other agreement. No matter what, the fine in the case, even with GM's cooperation, is expected to top $1 billion.  WSJ (subscription required)

Around the Water Cooler

 Ford's plans for self-driving cars

Ford CEO Mark Fields told Fortune that he isn't just obsessing about self-driving cars. He says the company needs to think more holistically, so that it is not only considering autonomous vehicles, but also connected cars, ride sharing and other technologies. Being first to sell self-driving cars to the masses doesn't fuel Fields. Instead, his goal is to build on Ford's legacy and "push ourselves to make sure it's accessible and affordable." Fortune

 Expensive is the new cheap for S&P 500

The S&P 500 Index's greatest bargain is currently the banking sector but that industry is still no bargain: only once over the past quarter of a century has the cheapest sector commanded a higher valuation. The lack of bargains is a challenge facing investors after a six-year rally. And at the same time, profit growth shows signs of slowing after five years of expansion. Overall S&P 500 earnings are expected to fall in the second and third quarters, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.  Bloomberg

 Apple promotes design guru

Apple's design mastermind, the man behind the look of the iPhone and the iPad, has earned a key upgrade. Jonathan Ive has been promoted to the newly created position of chief design officer, from his previous role as senior vice president. He will now have more time to focus on other parts of Apple's empire, including its Apple Stores and even the design of its massive new spaceship-shaped headquarters.  Fortune

 Samsung strengthens heir's influence

Two Samsung companies are merging in a move that analysts say will put the company's heir, Lee Jae-yong, in a stronger position in the conglomerate. An all-stock merger will combine Samsung's de facto holding company with its construction and trading company. The merger will allow Lee to have indirect control over more of Samsung Electronics, analysts say.  WSJ (subscription required)