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The big question now is how to reopen

June 25, 2020, 10:08 AM UTC

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Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

It would be something of an understatement to say the question of reopening businesses right now is a fraught one. Look at Apple, which—in the context of rising coronavirus infection figures—is already shutting some of its U.S. stores again, or Disney, which is delaying the reopening of its Anaheim, Calif. theme park in response to workers’ fears of unsafe conditions.

At Fortune we have been examining the issue for a while now as part of our How to Reopen campaign, and this morning we are publishing an online-only mini-magazine devoted to the subject. Here’s the cover:

The package is fronted by this great Geoff Colvin piece about how it’s the boldest companies that will win out at this critical moment. As he writes:

“Economic calamities—even tragic, once-a-century global pandemics—require business leaders to find opportunity in the chaos. It’s there to be found. Leaders who can seize it will mitigate the pain for employees, consumers, vendors, communities, and investors. The big lesson from past downturns is that the competitive order within industries will change far more now than it ever will in prosperous times.”

Meanwhile, Katherine Dunn delves into British cinema operators’ quest to reopen their doors and finds some theater owners are worried about a shortage of quality new films to bring in customers next month. McKenna Moore examines the push for the U.S. to “go cashless” in the context of virus-transmission fears—spoiler: that’s not going to happen overnight—and Lydia Belanger explains why pop-up retail is having a moment right now. And Aric Jenkins spoke with PGA golfer Troy Merritt about the reality of bringing live golf back to our screens.

It’s a powerful and timely package that also includes reopening-related articles from the last couple months. You can find it here.

News below.

David Meyer


Interstate restrictions

One reason markets are falling (the Dow was down 2.7% yesterday and some Asian markets also fell slightly today) is the coronavirus situation in the U.S., where numbers are shooting up in many states. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have now said anyone coming in from hard-hit Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah will need to go into quarantine for two weeks. New York Times

Tariff threat

The other reason for the drop, perhaps, is the possibility of the U.S. imposing new tariffs on EU products, as part of the dispute over subsidies to planemakers. The WTO had already agreed with the U.S. that the EU was illegally subsidizing Airbus, so now the U.S. gets to impose tariffs, and yesterday the U.S. Trade Representative revealed the potential list, covering products such as olives, chocolate and beer. The EU says this round of tariffs could go beyond what the WTO allows. CNN

Roundup settlement

Bayer will pay up to $10.9 billion to settle current and future lawsuits over allegations that its Roundup herbicide causes cancer. The German giant will not admit that this link is in fact valid, but it hopes the settlement will make the whole mess go away. That's no certainty; up to $9.6 billion of that cash is to settle nearly 100,000 existing claims, leaving not much (relatively speaking) to settle future claims, and there could still be a lot of those, as the weedkiller remains on sale. Fortune

Wirecard insolvency

Surprise! Wirecard, the German payments firm caught up in a massive alleged accounting fraud scandal, has filed for insolvency. The move comes after Bank of America said its shares may be worth just one euro apiece. Reminder: a week ago, before audit results revealed the likely non-existence of $2.1 billion on Wirecard's books, and before the cops came for suddenly-former CEO Markus Braun, those shares were trading at over €100 each. Financial Times


Corporate leadership

Former Honeywell CEO Dave Cote has written what Fortune's Shawn Tully calls "the War and Peace of books on corporate leadership." As Tully writes of Winning Now, Winning Later: "Current and aspiring CEOs should pay close attention, because for Cote, many of America’s big companies are wrestling with how to invest for the future while still generating the quarterly results investors expect." Fortune

Son and Ma

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is to step down from Alibaba's board, effective today—the same day that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma leaves SoftBank's board. It's the end of a 15-year era of close cooperation, though Son said the parting of ways is "perfectly amicable." Rikkyo University professor Michiaki Tanaka: "The joint board membership was a big positive for both companies because it gave them a way to benchmark their respective business models. Not having that board-level contact is a big loss." Bloomberg

Meng Wanzhou

After a legal opinion stated the Canadian government could free Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou—being held for extradition to the U.S.—if it wanted to, a top spokesman for China's foreign ministry suggested that doing so could pave the way for the release of two Canadians being held in China. China has previously denied that its detention of former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, held on espionage charges, had anything to do with the Meng case. Globe and Mail

eBay harassment

Do set aside some time for this crazy story about how eBay employees allegedly harassed online critics that they suspected were being funded by rival Amazon. Six people have now been charged with cyberstalking—including sending the critics live cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody-pig mask—and the U.S. attorney's office is investigating whether any other similar campaigns were carried out. WSJ

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.