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CEO Daily: Tuesday 23rd August

Good morning.



Todd Newman was running a $150 million portfolio of tech stocks at Diamondback Capital in November 2010 when the call came that upended his life. The FBI was in the midst of a major crackdown on insider trading, and had set its sights on SAC Capital, run by hedge fun billionaire Steven A. Cohen. Diamondback had been started by two former SAC traders, one of whom was married to Cohen’s sister, so it was a natural target. With the Feds relentlessly on his case, Newman’s career was destroyed, his marriage ended, and eventually he was convicted of insider trading.



But two years later, Newman’s conviction was overturned on appeal, in a ruling that may make insider trading – never a particularly well-defined crime – even tougher to prosecute in the future.



In the September issue of Fortune, William Cohan tells Todd Newman’s story. It’s a fascinating look at what it was like to be stalked by Wall Street’s top cop, prosecutor Preet Bharara. You can read the full story here. And you can read Roger Parloff’s analysis of how Newman’s victory on appeal has changed the outlook for insider trading here.


More news below.


Alan Murray

Top News

Clinton E-mail Trove May Go Public in October

A federal judge gave the State Department until Sept. 22 to review nearly 15,000 e-mails sent or received by Hillary Clinton while Secretary of State, paving the way for them to be released as early as mid-October. Thus, if there are any unexploded bombs in the trove, they could go off only two or three weeks before the presidential election on Nov. 8. Last year, Clinton had chosen not to turn over the correspondence voluntarily to the State Department. The FBI reportedly recovered them from Clinton’s private server and other officials’ archives. Separately, the conservative NGO Judicial Watch released hundreds of e-mails of Huma Abedin, a long-time Clinton advisor, which it said proved that donors to the Clinton Foundation were repeatedy granted “special, expedited access to the Secretary of State.” GOP nominee Donald Trump called for a special prosecutor to be appointed. Fortune

Delphi, Mobileye Team up on Autonomous Driving

Two big automotive components suppliers are teaming up to develop a fully autonomous driving system that carmakers could ‘plug in’ to their future models, according to The Wall Street Journal. Delphi Automotive, a former GM spinoff, and Jerusalem-based Mobileye aim to have their system ready for market by 2019, the WSJ said. The two companies already make the sensors and software that underpin some self-driving programs, but their business is being challenged by both established and disruptive automakers who aim to develop their own in-house technology. Delphi CEO Kevin Clark said the companies aim to invest “several hundred million dollars” in the project. The WSJ noted that Mobileye ended its relationship with Tesla after a high-profile fatality involving one of Tesla’s cars in May. WSJ, subscription required

Keith Meister Wants Williams’ Whole Board Out

Activist investor Keith Meister is trying to get the whole board of pipeline operator Williams Cos replaced, only weeks after the collapse of its proposed takeover by Energy Transfer left his Plan A in tatters. Meister and five other board members had quit Williams after Energy Transfer wriggled out of its commitment to buy Williams for a price that no longer corresponded to market realities after the collapse in oil prices last year. Williams’ CEO has also rejected an approach from Enterprise Products Partners in the meantime. Meister told CNBC he had been forced to launch a proxy battle after Williams rejected a plan to nominate a majority of seven independent directors to its board. CNBC

France ‘Covered up’ Renault Emission Violations

The French government covered up the worst excesses of Renault’s diesel vehicles’ emissions in an investigation into the use of possible ‘defeat devices’, according to the Financial Times. The government had set up a commission to see how widespread the problem of excess emissions was after the Volkswagen scandal erupted in September. However, much of the report was kept confidential and its published findings were inconclusive. There was widespread fear that a conflict of interest would impede the report: the French state owns 19.7% of Renault and is also traditionally protective of France’s other national champion, Peugeot SA. Neither company markets its diesels in the U.S.  FT, metered access


Around the Water Cooler

The Spectacular Fall of Ryan Lochte

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte lost all four of his major sponsors on Monday, including Speedo USA and Ralph Lauren, following his #sorrynotsorry apology for an “exaggerated” story about being robbed at gunpoint at the Rio Games. “I wasn’t lying to a certain extent. I over-exaggerated what was happening to me,” Lochte told Brazilian TV at the weekend. He did better at the second attempt, admitting that his “immature, intoxicated behavior” had tarnished the games, but the damage had already been done by then. Lochte’s original version of the incident embarrassed the host city, angered local officials and fueled the lazy stereotyping of a country which has enough real problems to worry about already.  Fortune

His Name is Still Mudd

Former Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission over claims that he misled investors about the scale of Fannie’s exposure to risky mortgages ahead of the financial crisis. The settlement ends one of the SEC’s U.S. biggest cases tied to the 2008 financial crisis without any admission of wrongdoing by Mudd. Mudd was one of six executives at the two big federally owned mortgage institutions to be sued by the SEC in 2011. Their losses on $441 billion worth of subprime mortgages and Alt-A loans were a prime factor in the government’s decision to putting them under Treasury control at huge expense to taxpayers in 2008. Fannie has since more than repaid the support it got.  Reuters

Kobe Bryant, Venture Capitalist

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant publicly launched a $100 million venture capital fund with partner Jeff Stibel, better known as a vice-chairman of Dun & Bradstreet. Apparently, the fund has already invested in 15 companies in the last three years, but is only now going public. Its investments range from at-home juicing machine maker Juicero to the more familiar Alibaba Group and The Players Tribune, a website for athletes to promote their own articles and other media. Some other investments still remain confidential. Stibel told Fortune that he’s not afraid of bad publicity from the addition of a one-time rape suspect to the ranks of an industry that already has a reputation as a sexist boys’ club. “A huge chunk of our portfolio company CEOs are women,” he said. Hmm. Fortune

The Return of Sarko (Maybe)

Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed he would run for the center-right Républicains nomination to the presidency in next May’s elections. The voting pattern at this year’s regional elections suggested the Républicains candidate is likely to be the favorite in next year’s run-off: the Socialist vote is likely to split between centrist and extremist candidates in the first round, and then rally behind whoever opposes the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the run-off. But Sarkozy has his work cut out to get the nomination: right now, he’s only fifth in the sympathies of Républicains voters, well behind Bordeaux mayor and former Prime Minister Alain Juppé. Still, at least the announcement helped his book launch. FT, metered access