Take a moment amid the din this morning to appreciate a man who represents what truly makes America great: Robert Mueller. He took on a thankless task with dignity, integrity, a willingness to sacrifice his own reputation for a public cause, and an unflinching commitment to the rule of law. He proved the system still works, even in the face of unprecedented political turmoil. That’s good for the country, and ultimately good for business.
Less good are continuing revelations about the Boeing 737 Max. Afraid of losing ground to rival Airbus, the company appears to have taken some shortcuts in developing the plane… and succeeded in getting the FAA to play along with its gambit. The new revelations make it clear that my grading of CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s response to the plane’s two crashes was premature. Right now, he deserves an incomplete. The fact that he took eight days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash before making a public statement makes me think he is not the man to lead the company out of its deepening hole. For the American economy—and the global economy—Boeing is too big to fail. But I predict a new person in the pilot’s seat by the end of the year.
More news below. And go here for an advance look at Apple’s pivot-to-subscriptions, which will be announced today.
This week had a bad start in Asia, thanks to recession fears—Nikkei down 3%, Shanghai Composite down 2%, Hang Seng down 2%, and so on. Early trading in Europe was also less than great, with the Stoxx Europe 600 being down 0.3% at the time of writing. U.S. futures are also slightly in the red. MarketWatch
Uber and Careem
Uber is set to buy Middle Eastern rival Careem this week for $3.1 billion in cash and convertible notes, according to Bloomberg, which says the deal could be announced as early as tomorrow. Uber is expected to launch its long-awaited IPO next month, at a valuation of as much as $120 billion. Bloomberg
Belt and Road
The Italian government would like to reassure Washington that its signing-up to China’s Belt and Road Initiative is “nothing to worry about,” despite the U.S.’s opposition to the deal. “We are maximizing all precautionary measures, and I want to tell the U.S., and I will tell them as well in next week’s visit, that they are our allies, and that we understand their concerns,” said Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who added that the deal had no 5G component. CNBC
The African media giant Naspers, which owns almost a third of the Chinese online giant Tencent, is to make a European listing that will spin off that stake and other international investments such as its stake in Russia’s Mail.ru. Naspers will own 75% of the new company, which should be “Europe’s largest listed consumer internet company by asset value.” It will be listed on the Euronext Amsterdam and in Johannesburg. Financial Times
Around the Water Cooler
What does Attorney General William Barr’s summary of the Mueller report really say, from a legal standpoint? The Lawfare team notes that, while it certainly contains good news for the president on the “collusion” front, we don’t yet know the full implications. Barr’s letter explicitly notes that Mueller’s probe did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. Lawfare: “The letter suggests but does not state… that the Mueller report has teed up the question of presidential obstruction for evaluation by a different actor—to wit, by Congress—on a decidedly noncriminal basis.” Lawfare
The weekend saw a flurry of rumors that British Prime Minister Theresa May would be ousted by members of her cabinet, to be replaced by her de-facto deputy, David Lidington, or by Brexiteer Michael Gove. The rumors petered out quickly, but something has to give soon. At least a million people marched Saturday in London to demand the fresh Brexit referendum that May is determined not to allow, and over 5 million signed an anti-Brexit petition. Even Rupert Murdoch’s pro-Brexit Sun newspaper is calling for May to name her own exit date. Reuters
U.S. prosecutors have filed new charges against Mike Lynch, the British entrepreneur who sold his data firm Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard. The 17-count indictment now includes new charges of securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. HP says Lynch and former Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussain inflated the company’s value before the $11.7 billion sale, which led to an $8.8 billion write-down, and is suing them in the U.K. for $5.1 billion; the trial begins today. BBC
Prematurely launching self-driving cars would be “irresponsible” and could end delaying “the best lifesaver in the history of the car” due to an impact on public and regulatory trust, according to Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson. “You have to be very careful when you introduce this, and that’s why I think it has to be safer than perceived,” he said. FT