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Good morning. In a lengthy phone interview with Fortune’s Vivienne Walt last week, the world’s richest man (sorry, JB) gushed over the new American president. “I’m super fired up that the new administration is focused on climate,” he said.
Musk fan boys can tell you that his political views have long leaned to the right, on many issues. He has fought unionization at his factories, and in 2018, donated far more to Republicans than Democrats.
But his turnaround on Biden should come as no surprise. The Biden team is contemplating a variety of measure to encourage electric cars and attack climate change—which can only mean more money in Musk’s pocket. It recognizes a new reality in the climate debate from a decade or two ago. Businesses used to routinely oppose climate discussions because they feared resulting taxes and regulations. But one person’s tax is another’s subsidy. And today, some of the biggest companies—Tesla included (No. 7 in market cap in the S&P 500)—are on the receiving end.
More news below. And here’s your fact for the day: For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser will not be advertising in the Super Bowl. I guess the Clydesdales are in quarantine.
AstraZeneca storm 1
AstraZeneca's European crisis, sparking when it informed EU leaders that its vaccine shipments this quarter would be 60% lower than contractually promised, got markedly worse in the last day. It seems the company didn't give the EU any evidence to back up its vague claim of manufacturing difficulties, creating the impression that it might have actually sold the promised doses outside the EU at higher prices. Now officials are calling for export controls. Politico
AstraZeneca storm 2
Germany's Handelsblatt reported that AstraZeneca's vaccine is barely (as in 8%) effective for people over the age of 65. The company has strenuously denied this, and scientific experts appear to be on its side here. The British government is reportedly furious at the slur on its national champion, and the German government has denied the report that said its officials came up with the 8% estimate; they suggest somebody got confused. Quick takeaway: wait for better data before getting alarmed, and let's see what the European Medicines Agency decides this week about the AZ jab. ABC News
Rod Baker, the erstwhile CEO of Great Canadian Gaming Corp, has resigned and faces charges after being busted for jumping the COVID vaccine queue. He and his wife travelled to a small community called Beaver Creek, so they could get the Moderna vaccine under the pretense that they were new employees at a nearby motel. Fortune
Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black is stepping down, following an independent review into large payments made to Jeffrey Epstein. The review found no evidence of Black being involved in the pedophile and sex trafficker's crimes, but it did find Black paid Epstein $148 million for tax planning services. Black will stay on as Apollo chairman, and donate $200 million of his family's money to women's initiatives. Wall Street Journal
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
In one of the hardest-hitting GDPR fines yet, the Norwegian privacy regulator has fined Grindr $11.6 million (around a third of its 2019 profits) for illegally sharing data about users' sexual orientation, plus their exact location, to third parties including Twitter and various ad-tech firms. There are big lessons in here for all kind of businesses that handle sensitive data in the EU. Fortune
President Xi Jinping gave a virtual-Davos speech yesterday in which he warned the U.S. (though not by name) to stop being so darn confrontational with China. Xi: "History and reality have made it clear time and again that the misguided approach of antagonism and confrontation—be it in the form of a cold war, hot war, trade war or tech war—will eventually hurt all countries’ interest and undermine everyone’s well-being." Axios
Former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who is known as "Captain Planet" to his grandkids, writes for Fortune that adults should listen to children when it comes to the climate crisis. "Children have a way of boiling complex problems down to simple solutions," he writes. "They also have a finely tuned radar for hyperbole and inconsistency. Kids watch what we do, not just what we say." Fortune
All that stimulus is having an effect on corporate fundraising: companies raised $400 billion in the first three weeks of this year, which is about $170 billion above the average for this time of year. Financial Times
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.