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CEO Daily: Thursday, 2nd March

Good morning.

Trump’s nod to a “merit-based” immigration system in his speech to Congress seems to be an acknowledgement of what we at Fortune have believed for a while: that in today’s economy, human capital is the most important determinant of business success. If the world’s best and brightest want to come live and work in the U.S., why shouldn’t we let them?

My friend Gary Shapiro, who runs the Consumer Technology Association, advocated such an approach in a piece he wrote recently for Fortune. “We must determine what skills and talents we need in the U.S., and then create an immigration system that appropriately values those attributes,” he said. “Australia, Canada and the U.K. use a points-based system to determine immigrant desirability and award the majority of visas to high-skilled workers, while still allowing for family and humanitarian visas. This is a thoughtful approach to immigration that would work well in the U.S.” You can read his full piece here.

The competition for talent is one reason why our list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For is Fortune‘s most popular franchise, read by millions of people throughout the year. We’ll be unveiling the 20th anniversary edition of the list next Thursday, March 9th. CEO Daily readers in New York are invited to join us at our offices to hear from top executives of three of the companies on the list—Accenture, Kimpton Hotels, and Edward Jones—on how to build great workplaces. You can RSVP here.

I’m in Guangzhou, where this morning I visited the offices of Guangzhou Automotive, which is sponsoring our Fortune Global Forum here in December. The company makes a popular Chinese car called the “Trumpchi.” Executives went to great lengths to explain the car was christened in 2010, and is not related to the current U.S. President.

News below.

Alan Murray

Top News

Sessions Under Pressure over Russia Ties

Attorney-General Jeff Sessions met twice with Russia’s U.S. envoy last year, at the height of what intelligence agencies believe to have been a Russian cyber campaign to influence the presidential election, the Washington Post reported. Sessions had denied during his confirmation hearings having had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign. Sessions’ spokeswoman said he had had more than 25 conversations with foreign ambassadors last year in his position as a member of the Armed Services Committee. Congressional Democrats called on Sessions to resign. Fortune

A Vote of Confidence in Snap

Snap Inc. priced its IPO above the initially targeted range at $17 a share, valuing the company at nearly $24 billion. While the broader market rally and the dearth of comparable recent offerings created something of a tailwind, the deal—the biggest since Alibaba’s offering in 2014—is a clear vote of confidence by investors in the company, in its founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, and in a tech sector that shied away from public equity markets last year. Wall Street will be hoping that the precedent encourages other privately-held tech darlings to accelerate plans to do likewise. Trading starts later today. Fortune

Ajit Pai Gets to Work

Broadband providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will no longer be subject to stricter rules on privacy than sites such as Facebook and Google. The new chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, said the FCC would suspend rules approved by the previous administration requiring providers to get consumer consent before using precise geo-location, financial information, health information, children’s information, and web browsing history for advertising and internal marketing. Republicans had criticized the rules for giving websites the ability to harvest more data and use that advantage to dominate digital advertising. Fortune

AB InBev Disappoints

Beware of private equity buyers promising juiced returns? AB InBev reported a worse-than-expected drop in basic operating profit due to slumping sales in Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa. It was the first drop in its preferred profit measure since AB InBev was founded in 2004. While all three have macro problems, the figures do nothing to contradict the view that 3G, its biggest shareholder, is a one-trick pony dependent on cost-cutting. The company, which consolidated SAB Miller’s results for the first time, tried to soften the blow by promising an extra $350 million a year in cost savings from the merger, and also forecast faster growth this year. One bright point was the way it offset falling volume in mature markets with a higher share of premium beers sold. Even so, the company’s shares still fell nearly 2% in Europe. Reuters

Around the Water Cooler

Another Shake-Up in Bridgewater’s C-Suite

It’s musical chairs time once again at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. Founder Ray Dalio is stepping down (again) as co-CEO, while Jon Rubinstein, the man widely credited with inventing the iPod for Apple, is also leaving after only 10 months as co-CEO, with the laconic explanation that he is “not a cultural fit” for the firm. Dalio had returned to the co-CEO’s position last year after reportedly falling out with heir apparent Greg Jensen. This time, Dalio will be succeeded by the firm’s president, David McCormick. Dalio will also stay on as co-chief investment officer and co-chairman.  WSJ, subscription required

You’ll Never Tweet in This Town Again

The organizers of the Academy Awards said the two PwC accountants behind the mix-up that saw La La Land incorrectly named best picture instead of Moonlight will not work the Oscars ceremony again. It emerged earlier this week that Brian Cullinan, one of the two accountants, had tweeted a picture of himself with Oscar winner Emma Stone minutes before the mix-up. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences didn’t say whether it would continue its relationship with PwC, which has tabulated the awards process for the last 83 years. That’s been ‘under review’ since Sunday. Fortune

Paying the Price, Yahoo-Style

Yahoo pushed out its top lawyer and denied CEO Marissa Mayer her cash bonus for 2016 after an independent review of two big data breaches accused the company of not investigating them thoroughly enough. Mayer also volunteered to forego her annual stock award. The fallout from the data breaches meant that Yahoo had to cut the price of its Internet businesses by $350 million in a recent adjustment to its deal with  Verizon. Yahoo said yesterday that it believed the same state-sponsored actor to have been behind two breaches that gained access to 32 million user accounts, using forged cookies to bypass password controls. Fortune

McDonald’s Finally Goes Mobile

McDonald’s finally embraced the mobile age, saying it would make mobile orders and payments available at all of its 14,000 or so U.S. restaurants by the fall. It will even—gasp!—start offering delivery services. The announcement highlights just how far the U.S.’s largest restaurant chain has fallen behind rivals in responding to changing demand patterns. Such negligence has been a factor (albeit far from the only one) in a 500 million decline in store visits since 2012. The company’s shares rose 1.4% in response.  Fortune

Summaries by Geoffrey Smith;