Skip to Content

Trump Tariffs, United Technologies, Uber Fines: CEO Daily for November 27, 2018

Good morning. David Meyer here, filling in for Alan from Cape Town.

Fortune’s Shawn Tully has a great piece out this morning on Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who—incredibly—only set foot on a plane for the first time at age 25.

That’s a fun detail, but the article also provides a deep and fascinating primer on where Delta is at in relation to the industry at home and abroad, and the challenges faced by the values-driven Bastian. Here are a few tidbits that really stood out to me:

  • Thanks to aggressive pricing from budget carriers, 2014-2018 saw an across-the-industry drop of around a quarter in business fares. But rising oil prices have forced the budget carriers to raise their prices, and Delta has now recouped half of the drop.
  • With revenues flat-ish, Delta has quite a lot riding on its co-branded credit cards with AmEx, as well as its switch—in common with much of the industry—to larger planes that are also more fuel-efficient.
  • The importance of Delta’s overseas growth is also notable; it’s extremely reliant on the future of the carrier’s partnerships with Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic (where a merger of the joint ventures should make Delta a much more attractive choice for corporates), and with Korean Air (which is helping Delta escape a sticky situation with the repurposing of a Japanese hub.)

Bastian’s challenges range from rising fuel costs and the specter of a U.S. slowdown or recession, to Brexit and competition in that credit-card market. He may be popular with his staff now—don’t forget Bastian was on Fortune‘s list of the World’s Greatest Leaders this year—but there may be strong turbulence ahead.

More news below.

David Meyer
@superglaze
david@dmeyer.eu

Top News

Trump Tariffs

President Trump indicated he’s likely to follow through with his threat to impose tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese imports, plus all the rest if upcoming trade talks fail. The president said he may make Apple’s phones and laptops more expensive for American consumers, who can “easily handle” the 10% surcharge he has in mind. Apple’s shares fell in response. Bloomberg

Disunited Technologies

Under pressure from activist investors, United Technologies is splitting up into three companies. The new United Technologies will focus on aerospace. Otis will make elevators and escalators. Carrier will make heating, AC, fire safety and security systems. CEO Gregory Hayes: “Our decision to separate United Technologies is a pivotal moment in our history and will best position each independent company to drive sustained growth.” Fortune

Uber Fined

Uber has been fined $1.17 million by European privacy regulators over its 2016 data breach and the cover-up that ensued. The fines, issued by British and Dutch regulators, are small in the grand scheme of things—but remember that the General Data Protection Regulation was not yet in force at the time of the incident, so the fines would be much greater if such an incident happened now. Fortune

Google Sued

A coalition of European consumer organizations is filing complaints against Google, under the tough General Data Protection Regulation, about the company’s tracking of people’s location. The groups say Google “uses various tricks and practices to ensure users have [location-tracking] features enabled and does not give them straightforward information about what this effectively entails.” BEUC

Around the Water Cooler

Trump on Brexit

The Brexit deal may not allow for a trade deal between the U.K. and the U.S. That’s President Trump’s contribution to the furious debate over the agreement, which the British Parliament is already all but certain to sink in a vote next month. The deal is unpopular among ardent Brexiteers partly because it would maintain close trade ties between the U.K. and the EU. “That wouldn’t be a good thing. I don’t think they meant that,” Trump said. CNBC

Trump on GM

President Trump is not pleased at the news of GM cutting 15% of its North American workforce. The company announced yesterday that it is to shut eight plants. Trump told GM CEO Mary Barra that she should open a new plant in Ohio. “They say the Chevrolet Cruze is not selling well. I say, well get a car that is selling well and put it back in,” he said. Fox Business

IBM on Regulation

IBM boss Ginni Rometty is keen on new tech regulation, as long as it focuses on the consumer-facing tech giants that IBM is not. She said at a Brussels event yesterday: “In regulating tech, government needs to focus on fixing the real problem. And that is the irresponsible handling of personal data by a few dominant consumer-facing platform companies. Addressing the weakest link – should not define the digital economy.” CNBC

Siemens and Alstom

The German and French engineering giants Siemens and Alstom can merge only if they get rid of certain crown jewels, a new report cites EU antitrust officials as saying. These would include the companies’ high-speed rail and signaling units, as Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is worried about the combined operation holding a near-monopoly in European rail markets. That sort of divestment would probably make the merger pointless. Financial Times

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