Okay, it’s a slow news week, so forgive me for sticking with the Elon Musk story one day more.
—First, looks like Tesla didn’t give Nasdaq a heads-up that Elon was about to announce a buyout of the company via Twitter. As a result, the stock continued to trade for more than an hour after the tweet, before trading was stopped. Not cool.
—Second, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly in talks to help take the company private. The Saudis definitely have the money, and it’s a nice hedge for the oil business. Still, it doesn’t sound like these conversations fit normal definitions of “funding secured.”
—Third, the Tesla board, which ought to be keeping Elon under control, doesn’t pass the smell test for independence—at least using the rules most big companies follow.
—Finally, investors are suing…no big surprise there.
No doubt Musk views all this as further reason to get out of the public markets, where regulators, investors, reporters and others don’t sufficiently appreciate his mission to save the world. Recognizing his passion for obscurity, my Fortune colleagues have suggested another possible escape route—cryptocurrency. Details here.
Non-Tesla news below.
Keep watching those emerging currencies, because this isn’t going away. Turkey’s lira fell again by as much as 11% this morning (that’s over 40% this year so far) before the country’s central bank moved to limit currency swaps. Asian stock markets fell too, as did South Africa’s rand, the Russian ruble, and the Indian rupee as investors sought safe havens. Even the euro slipped. The European banks that have lent to Turkish businesses, such as Spain’s BBVA and Italy’s UniCredit, are central to contagion fears. Guardian
Trump vs. Harley
President Donald Trump (whose doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel helped catalyze the above-mentioned crisis) has used Twitter to lay into Harley-Davidson for offshoring the production of hogs destined for the European market—a move caused by Trump’s steel tariffs against the EU, which prompted retaliatory tariffs. “Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas,” the president tweeted. “Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better.” Fortune
The Chinese government is cracking down on the largely unregulated peer-to-peer lending sector, where many platforms have failed due to liquidity issues. The authorities have now banned new online lending platforms and are demanding simpler customer complaint mechanisms, more legal punishment for fraudulent operators, and payout plans for those who hold shares in collapsed firms. CNBC
Elliott and Nielsen
Elliott Management Corp. has reportedly amassed a stake of more than 8% in the TV-ratings company Nielsen Holdings, and is planning a push to have Nielsen sell itself. Nielsen’s shares have fallen around 40% this year, and the company is looking for a new CEO after Mitch Barns said he would leave at the end of the year. Wall Street Journal
Around the Water Cooler
Institutional investors putting money into cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether aren’t really sure what the rules are around calculating tax on the investments, which is a problem as the IRS will be focusing on the issue in upcoming audits. Part of the issue is that different regulators have different views on virtual currencies—the IRS says they’re property, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission says they’re commodities. Bloomberg
British firms are having serious recruitment issues, thanks to a drop in people coming over from the European mainland to work. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reported that two-fifths of employers have found it harder to fill vacant positions over the last year. At some companies, this is leading employers to increase wages in order to attract talent. BBC
Former White House employee Omarosa Manigault Newman has a book out claiming that President Trump is a racist, and the fallout has her former colleagues on the defensive. Reporters spent a couple days trying to get White House communications representatives to name any senior staffers who are African-American. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders finally came up with the name of Henry Childs II, a Commerce Department official who has been seconded to the White House’s Office of Public Liaison for the last few months. NBC
China’s currency printing operations are working at near-full-capacity to satisfy demand from countries where China is active through its Belt and Road initiative—Chinese banknotes themselves are seeing less demand these days, as mobile payments take over. “I won’t let my children work in this factory. Paper currency is doomed,” said one employee at a printing facility. South China Morning Post