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Fortune Future, Trade War, GSK: CEO Daily for March 23, 2018

Good morning.

Thanks to all the CEO Daily readers who inquired yesterday about news that Meredith Corporation is exploring a sale of Fortune (as well as TIME, Money and Sports Illustrated.) Your expressions of concern are appreciated. But rest assured, we’ll be just fine… thanks in large part to the strong support we get from all of you.

Over the last few years, Fortune has morphed from the iconic magazine Henry Luce created 88 years ago into a multi-platform suite of services to business leaders, that includes the magazine, our six daily newsletters, digital offerings that reach more than 20 million people each month, a robust collection of business video, an online executive education program, and a series of influential live communities that includes Most Powerful Women, Brainstorm Tech, the Fortune Global Forum, Brainstorm Health, our new Brainstorm Reinvent, and the CEO Initiative. As a result, we are no longer solely dependent on the vagaries of the magazine business, and we are confident we will attract a worthy owner. Meredith has built its success on a dedication to very well-defined audiences, and Fortune falls outside that swim lane. Truth is, as Meredith CEO Tom Harty put it, we “are better suited for success with a new owner.”

At the core of Fortune’s value is great journalism, and we were honored to learn the Society of American Business Editors and Writers recently gave us seven of its annual awards–a tally far greater than any other magazine, and on a par with business newspapers that have twenty times our resources. You can read the seven award-winning entries here, and take comfort that we will continue to do similar great work in the future.

More news below. And a hat tip to AT, who responded to yesterday’s CEO Daily headline saying “Time for Zuckerberg to Step Up” by asking: “Isn’t it Time for Zuckerberg to Step Down?”

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

Top News

Trade War Begins

Stock markets are falling in the wake of President Donald Trump’s announcement of $60 billion worth of tariffs against Chinese steel and aluminum (Europe and a few other countries are exempted for now.) Japan’s Nikkei is down 4.5%, while other Asian exchanges were down between 2% and 4%. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell by 1.25%, and it looks like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq will open down too. China has proposed a list of 128 U.S. products that it may target in retaliation, though this only amounts to $3 billion in tariffs. Wall Street Journal

GSK and Pfizer

Remember yesterday, when it was reported that GlaxoSmithKline had outbid Reckitt Benckiser for Pfizer’s consumer healthcare business? Since then, Reckitt pulled out of the process—and now GSK has done the same. Its shares had taken a dip on the news that it was likely to take over Pfizer’s Advil-and-Centrum division. “While we will continue to review opportunities that may accelerate our strategy, they must meet our criteria for returns and not compromise our priorities for capital allocation,” said GSK CEO Emma Walmsley. Financial Times

Facebook Advertisers

M&C Saatchi CEO David Kershaw has called on advertisers to force change at Facebook, as users are unlikely to protest by deleting their accounts in significant numbers. “This is a moment for agencies and their clients to exert pressure,” he said. “Consumers are going to carry on using Facebook whatever. But if big brands start saying we don’t want to be associated with this then Facebook will have to change.” Telegraph

Credit Suisse Revolt

Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam earned 5.3% less last year than he did the year before—a mere 9.7 million Swiss francs ($10.26 million) for 2017—thanks to shareholder pressure. The bank agreed last year that it would cut executive bonuses, as investors saw its compensation packages as excessive. Credit Suisse posted a 983 million franc loss for 2017. Reuters

Around the Water Cooler

Bolton In

President Donald Trump’s replacement of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with John Bolton brings a real hardliner into the White House. The now-former Fox News talking head has called diplomacy a “sign of weakness” and, despite later being appointed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush, he said in 1994 that “there is no United Nations.” Interestingly, Bolton is also deeply critical of Russia. FirstPost

Dowd Out

The resignation of Trump lawyer John Dowd apparently clears the way for Trump to talk to Special Counsel Robert Mueller—a meeting against which Dowd strongly advised. The president told reporters yesterday that he “would like to” meet with Mueller. Joe diGenova, a new addition to Trump’s legal team, will reportedly play a key role in facilitating the interview. NBC

Facebook Regulation

Nicholas Economides, an economics professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, has a few suggestions for regulating Facebook. In a piece for Fortune, he writes that all information-collection contracts need to be opt-in, and that the company should be forced to serve users even if they don’t agree to share their data. Certain types of data shouldn’t be up for sale at all, he says, but people should generally be allowed to sell their data to Facebook. Fortune

Hong Kong Handout

More than one third of the people in Hong Kong will get a cash handout of up to $510, after the city’s administration came under heavy pressure to share some of its $17.6 billion surplus. “I think as government officials we need to have the capacity to step back and reflect the various views expressed and see how we may be able to better serve our people. So this scheme… is an effort to try to respond to the needs of the community in a proactive manner,” said finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po. The handout goes to adult residents who aren’t property owners and won’t pay income tax for the current financial year. South China Morning Post

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.