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January 23, 2020

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Good morning.

“Stakeholder capitalism” is nothing new in Davos. It’s been part of the ethos of the World Economic Forum since it was founded a half century ago. But the Business Roundtable’s decision last August to revise its statement on corporate purpose has given the issue new life this year, with countless panels and conversations on the topic being held in meeting rooms and over meals throughout this Swiss village.

This morning, I attended a breakfast session billed as a debate over stakeholder value versus shareholder value. But there was no debate. The four CEOs participating agreed they face growing demands to look after stakeholders—customers, employees, their communities, and the environment. But all insisted that doing so was in the long-run interest of shareholders.

“It’s not a ‘versus’,” said James Quincey, CEO of Coca-Cola. “The Coca-Cola business has been set up under a simple idea for a long time: it can’t be a viable business without a viable community.” Unilever CEO Alan Jope agreed: “The predominant paradigm is an either/or paradigm—either deliver financial performance, or pay attention to social impact. We believe nothing could be further from the truth.”

Jope says his company’s focus on sustainability has had a positive impact on innovation, on cost, and “it has made us an absolute magnet for talent. Unilever has gone from being an unknown company in the talent market to being ranked by LinkedIn as number three, after Google and Apple.” Stanley Black & Decker CEO Jim Loree told a similar story. Embedding social impact in its corporate purpose has been transformative, he says. “I had no idea how impactful it would be for employees. Employees are so motivated by this approach.”

But the big change from two or three years ago is in the financial markets. “This topic has evolved massively,” said Geraldine Matchett, the CFO and incoming co-CEO of DSM, the Dutch nutrition and materials company. “For a long time, this was a minor, niche, ‘impact investing’ topic,” largely ignored by investors. Now it has moved front and center: “Suddenly, we are having a conversation instead of a monologue.”

Fortune will continue that conversation tonight, with a dinner including the CEOs of Microsoft, UPS, Workday, Mastercard, Deloitte, Salesforce, RBC, Royal Phillips, Genpact, PayPal, Henry Schein, Dassault, Dow Chemical, Occidental Petroleum, Novartis, HP, HP Enterprise, Sanofi, A.P. Moller-Maersk, and more.

News below.

Alan Murray




Wuhan virus

Chinese stocks have fallen again—the Hang Seng by 1.5% and Shanghai Composite by 2.8%—after authorities moved to stop people leaving the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the mysterious coronavirus that has so far claimed 17 lives. Similar measures are being taken in Huanggang and Ezhou. The World Health Organization has so far held back from declaring a global emergency over the virus, which is for now known as 2019-nCoV. Fortune

Tesla valuation

Tesla market cap hit $100 billion yesterday, surpassing that of Volkswagen. If it stays above that threshold on average over the next six months, including a run of at least 30 consecutive days, CEO Elon Musk effectively scores a payout of more than $370 million. New York Times

TripAdvisor cuts

TripAdvisor is cutting about 5% of its workforce, or 200 jobs, apparently due to competition from Google's new travel search tools. The firm's Experiences business is reportedly a likely focal point for the cuts, as it has experienced falling earnings. Skift

Isabel dos Santos

Angolan prosecutors have formally accused Africa's richest woman, Isabel dos Santos, of embezzlement. The charges follow the leak of documents suggesting that the daughter of the country's former president used her position to amass her $2.1 billion fortune. Dos Santos, who these days lives in the U.K., has denied the allegations. BBC



GPS woes

GPS signals have become unreliable in the last couple years and, as Fortune's Katherine Dunn reports, the shipping industry is deeply concerned. Interference with the signals takes place for a variety of reasons, such as geopolitical conflict and crime, and the consequences are becoming more severe due to the proliferation of offshore infrastructure such as wind farms and undersea cables. Fortune

Digital tax

Although France has for now backed down over its attempt to tax the local revenues of tech giants, the U.K. says it will press ahead with its own plans. The U.S. is threatening to retaliate with tariffs on British car exports. The spat is taking place just as the U.K. is preparing to start negotiations with the U.S. over a free trade deal, as soon as Brexit takes place next week Friday. Financial Times

No-deal preparedness

The head of international at the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority has reminded financial firms that there is still a possibility of the year-end Brexit transition deadline passing without a deal with the EU—in other words, a belated no-deal Brexit scenario. Reuters

Trump and Siemens

Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser says he has received assurances from President Trump that his administration would support the German conglomerate's participation in Iraqi and Syrian reconstruction efforts, despite trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe. Siemens employs around 60,000 people in the U.S., and supports a further 100,000 indirect jobs there. CNBC

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.


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