CEO Daily: Thursday, October 29
If you hoped a viable Republican nominee might begin to emerge from last night’s CNBC debate….well, sorry.
Business’s favorite, Jeb Bush, put in such a lackluster performance that business needs to start searching for a new favorite. His big play was to go after Marco Rubio for poor attendance in the Senate – an attack which Rubio successfully parried. “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” Rubio shot back, “but I’m not running against Jeb Bush or anyone else on this stage.”
Bush also fumbled a question about whether fantasy sports should be regulated as gambling, talking first about the success of his own fantasy football league – “I’m 7-0” – and then rambling on about how, yea, maybe they did need to be regulated. That opened the door for Chris Christie to forcefully deliver the correct GOP response: “We have ISIS and Al-Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking fantasy football?”
For the first time in months, Donald Trump seemed like a side player, as did the other front runner, Ben Carson. Ted Cruz scored points by attacking the CNBC moderators for biased questioning – a sentiment the other candidates, the audience, and virtually everyone on Twitter who wasn’t in the employ of a Democrat seemed to agree with. It was not my former network’s finest hour.
To the extent there was a winner, it was Marco Rubio, who was thoughtful, calm, above the fray. But John Kasich pointed out, to no one’s notice, that experience does matter in the White House. Hasn’t recent experience taught us the presidency of the United States shouldn’t be an entry level job?
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• Pfizer, Allergan consider a merger
Just a day after drugstore retailers Walgreens and Rite Aid announced a merger, Wall Street Journal is reporting drug makers Pfizer and Allergan are considering a merger of their own, the latest in the health care sector. With Allergan's market capitalization at $112.5 billion, a deal for the company could be the biggest takeover in the year – surpassing the $104 billion preliminary agreement between brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller. WSJ (subscription required)
• Theranos restructures board
Theranos, the blood testing startup that is facing questions about its technology, found itself in the news twice on Wednesday. First, Fortune reported the company recently decided to raise upwards of $200 million in new funding according to regulatory filings. While those authorized shares haven't necessarily been issued or sold, it was a move that came after a report questioned the efficacy of the startup's technology. Secondly, Theranos has shrunk its board from 12 members to just five, a change it says occurred in July before the Wall Street Journal story was published. Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is scheduled to speak at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco next week. Fortune
• Starwood takeover rumors swirl
After reports that three Chinese companies are mulling a takeover of Starwood, it is now being reported that rival Hyatt Hotels is in advanced talks to buy the company. The talks have reportedly been going on for weeks and could be announced in as little as a week, according to CNBC. Because Starwood has trailed competitors like Marriott and InterContinental, Starwood earlier this year said it was exploring various reorganization options. USA Today
• Deutsche Bank to cut thousands of jobs
Deutsche Bank is planning to trim the lender's workforce by about 26,000 people by 2018, with about 9,000 of those jobs to come from job reductions while the rest will leave with assets that will be sold. The German bank is planning to close operations in 10 countries, including Mexico, Norway and New Zealand. The bank has been under pressure to cut costs and boost the company's underperforming stock. To help improve capital, Deutsche Bank will also suspend its dividend for two years. Bloomberg
• Samsung's profit soars
After nearly two years of disappointment, Samsung Electronic finally reported earnings that pleased investors, posting a sharp increase in profit due to strength for the South Korea tech giant's chip business. Interestingly, the semiconductor division's clients include some of Samsung's biggest rivals, like Apple. And while smartphone revenue increased at Samsung for the latest quarter, profits slid on a sequential basis following a price cut the company made in July to two of its flagship smartphones. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
• Forecast for IBM: An acquisition
IBM has acquired most of The Weather Company, including Weather.com, a deal that the Wall Street Journal reported was priced at over $2 billion. While the acquisition doesn't include the company's cable TV outlet, it signals IBM's interest in becoming a data-based company. The companies already had a working relationship: The Weather Company moved its data technology to IBM's computing platform as part of a partnership announced in March. Fortune
• Icahn says AIG too big to succeed
Activist investor Carl Icahn says he now owns a "large stake" in AIG, while also encouraging CEO Peter Hancock to consider splitting up the global insurer into three independent public companies. Icahn's stance is that AIG is "too big to succeed" and has thus been performing poorly compared to its rivals. He estimates that by splitting up, cutting costs on corporate overhead, and buying back stock, AIG can trade above $100 per share. That would be a 66% jump from its current trading price. Fortune
• Lowe's goes to outer space
Home-improvement retailer Lowe's and outer space manufacturer Made in Space said they will launch the first commercial 3D printer into space, a device that is set to become a permanent fixture on the International Space Station. For Lowe's, the ultimate goal is to learn more about 3D printing from the partnership and use it in other parts of the company's business. The company said it is still in the very early stages of finding ways to make 3D printing work in a big-box retail setting. Fortune