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Deutsche Bank’s painful self-help plan begins
The troubled German lender unveiled its long-awaited reorganization plan yesterday, which involves eliminating thousands of jobs and severely reducing its global ambitions. But is it too little, too late?
The bank plans to cut 18,000 jobs and shrink its global equities business. Top executives will leave, including its investment banking chief, and $300 billion worth of assets will be hived off in a “bad bank” to be sold off over time. The layoffs have already begun.
The firm will refocus its efforts on serving European companies and retail-banking customers, pulling back from nearly two decades of trying to compete with Wall Street giants. But its C.E.O., Christian Sewing, said this morning that the U.S. remains a core market for the bank.
The plan will cost the lender 7.4 billion euros, or $8.3 billion, in severance payments and other expenses through 2022. Dividends will be suspended for 2019 and 2020.
But experts are unsure whether it will work. Shrinking means reduced revenue, potentially creating a vicious circle of declining income and profits. Mohamed El-Erian of the German insurer Allianz tweeted, “Big question that’s now on the table is whether DB can shrink itself to heightened competitiveness and sustainable profitability without a merger of some sort.”
Huawei may have state ties, and that’s risky enough
Sometimes, simply appearing to be guilty can be enough for people to suspect you of misdeeds. That seems to be the case with Huawei.
The mere potential for Chinese government interference at Huawei is enough to have justified a law that restricts U.S. agencies’ business with the company, the Trump administration said last week.
Those concerns look increasingly justified, according to a new study of leaked employment information for thousands of Huawei employees, carried out by Christopher Balding, a professor at Fulbright University Vietnam.
• “There is strong evidence that Huawei personnel act at the direction of Chinese state intelligence, and that there exists a deep and lasting relationship between Huawei, its employees, and the Chinese state,” Professor Balding writes.
• One résumé, for instance, described a worker as a “representative” of China’s Ministry of State Security who had worked on “building lawful interception capability into Huawei equipment.”
Huawei called the report “speculative,” and insisted that employees with military or government backgrounds are “required to provide documentation proving they have ended their relationships” with their former employers.
But the news will probably reinforce the Trump administration’s view that Huawei represents a national security threat. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Either way, there’s a growing body of tangential evidence that the company will find increasingly hard to overcome.
More: All four major wireless carriers in Britain are using Huawei’s 5G equipment.
Jeffrey Epstein is charged with sex trafficking
The financier had long faced accusations that he had molested underage girls. On Saturday, he was arrested by federal authorities — potentially putting onetime associates, including President Trump and Bill Clinton, under greater scrutiny.
Mr. Epstein had been accused of assaulting girls in South Florida and Manhattan, using a network of contacts to bring minors to his homes in both regions, and sometimes shuttling them between the states.
Federal investigators had previously identified at least 36 potential victims after opening an inquiry in 2005. Some victims were as young as 13.
Mr. Epstein has many powerful business partners and friends. His most famous client is Les Wexner, the billionaire who controls Victoria’s Secret. Mr. Clinton flew on his private jet several times. And Mr. Trump told New York magazine in 2002 that he had known Mr. Epstein for years, adding, “It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
He avoided federal criminal charges in 2007, under a controversial plea deal arranged by the U.S. attorney for Miami at the time, Alexander Acosta. Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to violating Florida prostitution laws instead. (Mr. Acosta is now Mr. Trump’s Labor secretary.)
We’ll learn more about the latest charges against him today when he appears before a federal magistrate judge in New York.
Turkey’s leader fired his central bank chief over interest rates
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey plunged his country’s economy into uncertainty over the weekend when he fired his central bank chief, Murat Cetinkaya.
High interest rates have long irritated Mr. Erdogan. They’re currently at 24 percent, making it harder to borrow money. But economists say the rates should be even higher, given the weakness of the Turkish economy.
Mr. Cetinkaya was in a tough spot. Investors had argued he had raised rates too slowly last year amid a currency crisis. But Mr. Erdogan repeatedly said that high interest rates cause inflation, which Peter Goodman of the NYT says is like blaming obesity on cutting too much sugar from the diet.
Experts expect worse to come. Paul McNamara, a fund manager at GAM, told the FT that he was worried about Mr. Erdogan pursuing “growth at all costs,” adding, “If they’re going to try and short circuit the recession by trying to pile more loans into a weak economy, that’s the scenario where things can start to go quite seriously wrong.”
New controversy over the Pentagon’s huge cloud contract
The Pentagon is expected to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract, which is supposed to go to a single provider, to either Amazon or Microsoft next month. But the program has been criticized as having being skewed toward Amazon from the start — and a new WSJ report could further fan those flames.
• The WSJ reviewed Defense Department emails released under the Freedom of Information Act.
• “The emails show that on March 31, 2017, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis attended a dinner in London with Teresa Carlson, vice president of Amazon’s business selling cloud services to governments, though an organizer of the dinner said cloud computing never came up.”
• “That dinner helped lay the groundwork for a meeting in August of that year between Mr. Mattis and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the emails show.”
• “Pentagon officials with ties to Seattle-based Amazon also helped arrange meetings for Ms. Carlson with Mr. Mattis’s chief of staff and other Pentagon officials around the same time.”
Amazon and the Pentagon deny that there has been any preferential treatment in the process.
But the program also faces a legal challenge from Oracle, scheduled to be heard in court this week, claiming that the procurement process has been influenced by a former Amazon employee who worked at the Pentagon. Oracle told the WSJ that the information in the emails lend weight to its case.
ICE used facial recognition to scan driver’s license photos
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials mined state driver’s license databases using facial recognition technology, analyzing millions of motorists’ photos without their knowledge, Catie Edmondson of the NYT reports.
• “In at least three states that offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, ICE officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, according to newly released documents.”
• “At least two of those states, Utah and Vermont, complied, searching their photos for matches, those records show.”
This is “the first known instance of ICE using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases, including photos of legal residents and citizens.”
Privacy experts say the practice is deeply troubling. Harrison Rudolph of Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology told the NYT: “These states have never told undocumented people that when they apply for a driver’s license they are also turning over their face to ICE. That is a huge bait and switch.”
And it comes at a time of growing pushback against facial recognition. The cities of San Francisco and Somerville, Mass., have banned their agencies from using it. And critics have called on Amazon to stop selling its own technology to law enforcement.
Expect debate in Washington about what comes next. “There are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties, and our right to privacy,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said during a hearing last month.
E.U. officials are reportedly discussing naming Mark Carney, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, as the next head of the International Monetary Fund.
Dish Network named Paul Orban as its new C.F.O.
The Swiss private bank Julius Baer appointed Philipp Rickenbacher as C.E.O., succeeding Bernhard Hodler.
Vittorio Colao, the former C.E.O. of Vodafone, will join the private equity firm General Atlantic as a special adviser.
The speed read
• WeWork is reportedly planning to raise up to $4 billion in debt financing ahead of its I.P.O. (WSJ)
• Britain’s competition regulator halted an Amazon-led investment in Deliveroo as it opened an antitrust investigation into the deal. (NYT)
• Broadcom has reportedly secured financing for a potential takeover of Symantec. (Bloomberg)
• An American national-security panel has cleared the SoftBank Vision Fund’s $2.25 billion investment in the autonomous-vehicle company Cruise. (Reuters)
• Private equity firms are overcoming a longtime aversion to investing in biotech, thanks to a need to spend $2.5 trillion in cash. (FT)
Politics and policy
• The Fed chairman, Jay Powell, spoke with President Trump in May amid the president’s criticism of interest-rate policy. Mr. Trump attacked the Fed again on Friday, tweeting that the central bank “doesn’t have a clue.” (WSJ, Business Insider)
• A case before a federal appeals court on the Affordable Care Act could give Republicans grief in next year’s elections — especially if the law is ruled unconstitutional. (WaPo)
• Congress is back in session. Its top priority: meeting deadlines for funding the government to avert another federal shutdown. (WSJ)
• Iran announced another breach of nuclear deal limits, raising tensions between Tehran and Washington. (NYT)
• The trade war may be slowing business spending, according to the Fed. (NYT)
• Why a strait next to Iran is critical to the world’s oil supply. (NYT)
• Germany’s top antitrust official is urging other countries to take on Facebook and its peers by attacking what the companies value most: data. (NYT)
• Ford and Volkswagen are expected to sign an agreement as soon as this week to share the cost of developing autonomous and electric cars. (NYT)
• Why selling your private data may be an awful idea. (NYT Op-Ed)
• British Airways is facing a record fine of 183 million pounds, or $230 million, for its recent data breach. (BBC)
• G.M. says it needs to embrace tech to survive, but thousands of workers may lose their jobs in the process. “The Weekly,” which aired last night on FX and streams on Hulu starting today, digs into the issue.
Best of the rest
• Boeing lost an order for 50 of its 737 Max jets to Airbus. (WSJ)
• Amtrak’s C.E.O is trying to make it profitable — but some train fanatics are unimpressed. (WSJ)
• The Renault-Nissan alliance is strained. How long can it last? (FT)
• Wall Street banks are struggling to hire local talent in China. (Bloomberg)
• India’s fourth-largest bank was defrauded of $555 million. (Quartz)
• Why have job ads become written so ridiculously? (Economist)
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