Nike Takes a Knee, Pfizer’s Brexit Bill, Trump v. Trumka: CEO Daily for September 4, 2018

September 4, 2018, 10:42 AM UTC

Good morning.

Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh has a column on Fortune this morning calling on business leaders to take a stand on gun violence. “As president and CEO of a values-driven company that’s known the world over as a pioneer of the American West and one of the great symbols of American freedom, I take the responsibility of speaking up on the important issues of our day very seriously,” he writes. “While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”

The company is establishing a fund to provide $1 million in grants to nonprofits and youth activists, providing double matching grants and 60 hours a year in paid volunteer time to employees who want to support these groups, and teaming up with Michael Bloomberg to form Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety. He’s asking other CEOs to join the effort.

Bergh knows how controversial this path may be for the jeans maker. Two years ago, after he penned an open letter asking customers not to bring guns into the company’s stores, he received threats to himself and his business. He told me this weekend that “this is not without some risk to the business.” But as a former army officer trained in military weaponry, he says he is all too aware of their destructive power. He ends his piece with a quote from Gen. Michael Hayden: “There are some weapons out there frankly nobody should have access to. And actually, there are some people out there who should never have access to any weapons.”

Separately, I caught up yesterday with former Dow CEO Andrew Liveris, who this weekend was appointed special adviser to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Liveris is high on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his effort to transform the Saudi economy. “I have been around him an enormous amount of time. He is young, very energetic, enthusiastic, ambitious, smart, but clearly knows what he doesn’t know. He recognizes what he needs to do, which is not only bring the economy and country into the 20th century, but into the 21st century.”

News below.

Top News

Nike Takes a Knee

Nike is featuring former NFL star Colin Kaepernick in its latest ad campaign, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its "Just Do It" slogan. The move explicitly references Kaepernick's sacrifice in protesting against racial injustice in the U.S., and it has somewhat predictably sparked both great support and a furious backlash. In a very 2018 moment, critics are destroying their Nike apparel in protest at the company's support for the noted protestor. Fortune

Pfizer's Brexit Bill

Drug giant Pfizer expects to lose $100 million as a result of complications arising from the U.K.'s imminent divorce from the European Union. Brexit will mean Pfizer has to rejig its supply chain, transfer product testing and licenses to other countries, and change the way it manages clinical trials, in order to continue meeting EU legal requirements. At the moment there is no Brexit deal in sight, and companies of all kinds are preparing for the worst. Bloomberg

Trump v. Trumka

After union leader Richard Trumka said Canada should really be included in the revised North American Free Trade Agreement, President Trump laid into him—on Labor Day. Trump accused Trumka of saying things that were "so against the working men and women of our country, and the success of the U.S. itself, that it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly." In fact, Trumka agrees with Trump that the existing NAFTA has been bad for American workers. Fox Business

South Africa Recession

South Africa went into recession in the second quarter of the year, the country's statistician-general just announced. The surprise announcement—economists were expecting 0.6% growth, not a 0.7% contraction—comes amid general fears over emerging markets economies, so hold onto your hats. The rand has already plunged on the news. BusinessDay

Around the Water Cooler

Dorsey As Gatekeeper

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey overruled his staff by keeping the hate-speech-peddling conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the far-right activist Richard Spencer on the platform, according to the Wall Street Journal's sources. Twitter disputes that version of events, claiming Dorsey does not make or overrule decisions of this kind. Dorsey will appear alongside Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, to discuss social media's role in the dissemination of misinformation and propaganda. Wall Street Journal

TSB Tech Fallout

Paul Pester has stepped down as CEO of the British bank TSB, following a catastrophic IT meltdown in April. The computer failure locked customers out of their accounts, and the Sabadell subsidiary's systems are still not stable, months later. "The last few months have been challenging for everyone at TSB. However, I want to thank all my colleagues across TSB for their dedication and commitment during this period and for their focus on putting things right for TSB customers," said Pester, who had been CEO for the last seven years. Guardian

ING Compliance Fine

The Dutch bank ING is to pay $897 million over its lax compliance measures. The bank says it regrets that it allowed customers to use their accounts for money laundering and other illegal activities between 2010 and 2016, and CEO Ralph Hamers said ING takes "full responsibility" for its (in)actions. Dutch authorities pinned the blame on "collective shortcomings at all responsible management levels." BBC

Kavanaugh Hearing

The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins today, and there may be fireworks. Here's a rundown on the issues tied up in Kavanaugh's prospective inclusion on the Supreme Court bench, and what's at stake for Democrats and Republicans. Fortune

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

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