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Goldman in talks to end inquiry over Malaysian fund
Goldman Sachs is negotiating with federal prosecutors to settle an inquiry into its role in a scheme to loot billions from a sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia, the NYT’s Emily Flitter and Matthew Goldstein write, citing unnamed sources.
The Wall Street bank would pay a fine of as much as $2 billion as part of the settlement, and it would have a subsidiary plead guilty in an investigation that is focused on violations of money laundering and foreign bribery laws.
The case involves a plan to siphon off more than $2.7 billion from a Malaysian development fund known as 1MDB. A former Goldman partner has pleaded guilty in the case, and another bank executive faces criminal charges.
Goldman Sachs could also reach a deferred prosecution agreement, in which all charges are dropped if the bank complies with prosecutors’ provisions.
• A settlement could be reached by the end of January. The bank has said it is cooperating with the investigation.
Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Stephen Grocer in New York, and Gregory Schmidt and Sharon O’Neal in London.
I.P.O. flops have San Francisco techies spending (relatively) less
Something unheard-of has been happening in San Francisco: Developers have cut home prices. “The world has changed in a year,” one real estate broker said.
That change isn’t being felt only in real estate — it is apparent in nearly all the ways the Bay Area tech wealthy spend their money, write the NYT’s Nellie Bowles and Kate Conger.
Why? Because the recent disappointing wave of I.P.O.s didn’t make them the gazillionaires they thought they would become.
“San Francisco has been left as a slightly more normal town of tech workers who got rich-ish, maybe making a few hundred thousand dollars,” the reporters write. “But that doesn’t go far in a city where the median cost of a single family home is about $1.6 million.”
The focus of people’s spending has shifted: Instead of buying yachts, they are funding college savings plans. “Pretty boring stuff,” one wealth adviser said.
The I.P.O. flops are contributing to a nascent labor movement in the tech industry as well.
As some rank-and-file workers realize that they might not get rich from company stock, the allure of working long hours without comparable pay is starting to wear thin.
Now, “the engineers and the app designer and the developers are going to be treated a lot more like the employees that they are rather than like partners,” one organizer said.
For sellers, Amazon makes the rules and doles out the punishments
Shoppers have not only grown to love Amazon’s ease of ordering and fast shipping, they’ve also come to expect it.
To make its vast operation work, Amazon runs a machine that squeezes ever more money out of the hundreds of thousands of companies that sell there, from tiny start-ups to giant brands, writes the NYT’s Karen Weise.
Amazon dictates the rules for sellers, sometimes changing them with little warning, according to dozens of interviews by Ms. Weise.
If sellers’ items are available for even a penny less elsewhere, it punishes the businesses.
“Many sellers and brands on Amazon are desperate to depend less on the tech giant. But when they look for sales elsewhere online, they come up short,” Ms. Weise writes.
Amazon says that the rules are necessary to give customers a quality experience. The company said the health of sellers was a top priority, and that it had invested billions to support them.
“If sellers weren’t succeeding, they wouldn’t be here,” said Jeff Wilke, the chief executive of Amazon’s consumer business.
The top issues facing tech in the 2020s
The start of 2020 provides an opportunity to reflect on the last 10 years in technology and look to the future, Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, and Carol Ann Browne, the company’s director of communications, write in a LinkedIn post.
Tech is at a crossroads, thanks in part to several transforming technologies: quantum computing, cloud computing and digital data, all of which are leading to a new era in artificial intelligence.
“The tech sector will need to step up and exercise more responsibility while governments catch up by modernizing tech policies,” Mr. Smith and Ms. Browne write.
Sustainability, democracy, journalism and privacy are among the top 10 tech policy issues for the next decade, the authors said. “The changes will be immense. The issues will be huge. And the stakes could hardly be higher.”
Why Apple and other streaming giants are eyeing sports
Apple wants sports. The company has talked to the Pac-12 about a deal that could bring college sports to its streaming service Apple TV Plus, according to a report in the WSJ that cites unnamed sources. It’s said to be interested in MGM, the studio that owns the rights to the James Bond franchise.
Leagues demand big, live audiences, and Apple wouldn’t be able to show these games exclusively on Apple TV. It would need to own something else — like a broadcaster — to make any sports deal work, the NYT’s Edmund Lee tells DealBook.
Streaming services still aren’t big enough to attract mass audiences. Amazon streams “Thursday Night Football,” but the service, which is estimated to have close to 100 million subscribers, brings in only a few hundred thousand viewers at a time.
If Apple or any other tech giant is serious about winning exclusive sports content in any meaningful way, it will have to either become partners with or own a broadcaster to satisfy sports leagues — and their fans, Mr. Lee says.
ViacomCBS could be a target. Advisers for Shari Redstone, the media company’s chairwoman, have suggested a deal with a tech giant could be in the offing.
And there’s the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC. Despite cutting an enormous deal last year to buy 21st Century Fox, its chief executive, Bob Iger, wrote in a new memoir that if Steve Jobs were still alive, he would probably have acquired Disney.
Media rights for the N.F.L., still the biggest draw on television, expire in 2022, but negotiations will begin in earnest next year.
Andrew Bailey, the head of the British Financial Conduct Authority, has been selected as the new governor of the Bank of England, replacing Mark Carney
The speed read
• Text messages indicate that Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, worked behind the scenes to help Sprint and T-Mobile pull off their merger. (NYT)
• Takeaway.com raised its bid for the British food delivery firm Just Eat minutes after Prosus increased its offer, in last-ditch attempts in a takeover battle. (Bloomberg)
• TiVo and Xperi agreed to merge in an all-stock deal that values TiVo at $1.2 billion and suspends its plan to split itself in two in April. (WSJ)
• Live Nation Entertainment reached a tentative agreement with the Justice Department that would resolve concerns that the company violated a 2010 antitrust settlement that allowed it to merge with Ticketmaster. (WSJ)
• Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group, which builds Peugeots, face the challenge of winning over regulators and delivering on a pledge to slash costs without closing factories after agreeing to merge. (Reuters)
• PSA is extending its business cooperation with Dongfeng, a Chinese automaker, even though Dongfeng will reduce its stake in PSA to help smooth the French carmaker’s merger with Fiat Chrysler. (Reuters)
• Volkswagen has attracted bids from Europe’s Innio, Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy and U.S.-based Cummins for its MAN Energy Solutions. (Reuters)
Politics and policy
• Christianity Today, a prominent evangelical magazine, called for President Trump to be removed from office in a blistering editorial yesterday, a day after he became the third president in history to be impeached. (NYT)
• A new survey finds that Democrats haven’t fully embraced progressive policy proposals like Medicare for all. (NYT)
• Marc Lasry and Blair Effron, two of the most influential Democratic fund-raisers on Wall Street, are lining up behind former Vice President Joe Biden in 2020. (CNBC)
• A series of changes the Senate tucked into the $1.4 trillion spending deal passed yesterday opens the door to new options in 401(k) plans. (NYT)
• After the Queen Elizabeth’s speech, a newly empowered Boris Johnson says his “radical” agenda will “transform” Britain. (WaPo)
• The Department of Agriculture listed Wakanda as a free-trade partner, even though it is a fictional country from Marvel’s “Black Panther.” (NYT)
• Inside Samsung’s $300 million open-air office of the future. (WSJ)
• Amazon’s home-delivery push has been a boon to automakers that make vans. (Bloomberg)
• Facebook will remove posts, photos and other content that mislead people about the U.S. census that starts next year. (WaPo)
• Some top YouTube influencers are deciding to disconnect from the platform, worn down by what some say are demands to promote fresh content. (WSJ)
• How Satya Nadella, the Microsoft chief executive, presided over an era of stunning wealth creation. (FT)
Best of the rest
• Confidence among businesses and consumers in Britain climbed in December, even before Boris Johnson’s decisive election victory brought some certainty to the Brexit process. (Bloomberg)
• Michael Platt, the billionaire hedge fund manager, riffs on wealth in the back seat of a cab. (Bloomberg)
• The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis started a lottery-style program to give away doses of its expensive gene therapy, drawing criticism from patient groups. (WSJ)
• Companies in developing nations sold a record $118 billion worth of high-yield dollar bonds this year, and are likely to keep up a fast pace in 2020. (WSJ)
• The Chinese Communist Party is rapidly expanding a real estate empire in Hong Kong that is attracting increased scrutiny from pro-democracy lawmakers there. (Bloomberg)
• China’s ban on imported trash has caused a seismic shift in how the world deals with its waste. (WSJ)
• Legislators ask Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, how his bank will combat racism. (NYT)
• How product placement could be targeted specifically at you. (NYT)
• JD Wetherspoons, the British pub chain, is facing a ‘temporary’ shortage of pigs in blankets. (BBC)
• “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie, a poll finds. (YouGov)
• Mariah Carey’s long journey to No. 1 with “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” (NYT)
• An expected bigger season for holiday returns means store owners can get another crack at landing a sale. (WSJ)
• In Blackstone’s holiday video, the president of the asset manager, Jon Gray, introduces a big idea to make the firm even better. (YouTube)
Thanks for reading! DealBook is taking a break for the holidays. We’ll be back Jan. 2.
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