DealBook Briefing: Why the U.S. Is Spinning Its Wheels on Trade

Good Wednesday morning. Asian stocks dropped as North Korea threatened to walk away from a summit with the U.S. Are you a Yanny or a Laurel? Some links require subscriptions.

As the Trump administration wages multiple trade battles, it has met several big hurdles. Negotiators on Nafta appear unlikely to hit an informal deadline that would let Congress approve a rewritten pact this year, the WSJ says. The timing isn’t set in stone, but further delays make a new Nafta less likely before elections in Mexico and the U.S.

At the same time, Europe has pledged to protect its companies from potential U.S. sanctions on Iran. The E.U.’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said the goal was “maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran.” (She may be emboldened by President Trump’s about-face on ZTE — more on that later.)

Even Boeing’s victory at the World Trade Organization — which ruled that Europe had illegally subsidized Airbus — could pose problems. U.S. penalties could further strain trans-Atlantic relations.

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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin on the road and Michael J. de la Merced in London.

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The broadcaster’s case in Delaware’s Court of Chancery against its corporate parent, the Redstones’ National Amusements, is one of a number recently that challenge the kind of dual-class stock system used by the Redstones (and indeed by The New York Times Company).

Another part of CBS’s argument — that Ms. Redstone warned Verizon off bidding for CBS — took a hit yesterday. Verizon’s C.E.O., Lowell McAdam, told CNBC he didn’t want to invest in “linear TV.” (Read: CBS or 21st Century Fox.)

Speaking of Fox: An all-cash bid by Comcast for its assets could pit Rupert Murdoch, who would pay less tax on Disney’s share-based offer, against fellow shareholders. And in the middle of all this, Fox’s TV chiefs are in contract talks.

Elsewhere in deals: PaddyPower is reportedly close to buying FanDuel after the Supreme Court legalized sports betting. The hedge-fund mogul David Tepper signed a deal to buy the N.F.L.’s Carolina Panthers for $2.2 billion. FIFA is reportedly preparing a vote on the $25 billion offer by SoftBank and others for two new soccer tournaments. The two big proxy advisory firms urged Hyundai shareholders to side with Elliott Management against the management’s restructuring plan.

Lawmakers from both parties aren’t likely to support easing sanctions on the Chinese telecom company, even if the White House reckons it might persuade Beijing to lift import limits on American agriculture. Representative Mac Thornberry, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, told Bloomberg, “It is not a question to me of economics, it is a question of security.”

What others have said: John Harwood of CNBC said it was the president shrinking from another fight. And Lex said Mr. Trump was fighting from a position of weakness.

And the U.S. and China remain “very far apart” in trade talks, according to the U.S.’s ambassador to Beijing. Businesses are still lobbying for exemptions from Chinese tariffs, too.

The bigger picture: Is Huawei next for a reprieve?

• The White House has eliminated the role of cybersecurity coordinator. (NYT)

• Novartis’s general counsel retired after its contract with Michael Cohen became public. Will President Trump’s latest financial disclosures reflect payments to Mr. Cohen?

• Robert Mueller was “squarely” within his rights as special counsel to indict Paul Manafort, a federal judge ruled. (Politico)

• The House is expected to vote on moves to roll back Dodd-Frank next week. Stephen Gandel of Bloomberg Opinion expects little to change, at least for the Volcker Rule.

• Preet Bharara is reportedly considering running for New York’s attorney general — as an independent. (Bloomberg)

• Mr. Trump may invoke a Cold War-era statute to keep coal and nuclear power plants online. (Bloomberg)

The New Economy Forum is designed for a world where China’s ascent looks unstoppable. So it’s in Beijing, rather than the Swiss Alps. Participants include the former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson, Henry Kissinger, Janet Yellen and Gary Cohn.

Mr. Bloomberg’s pitch in the FT:

Elsewhere in boldface-name endeavors: Richard Branson and Pierre Omidyar are backers of a financial instrument for nonprofit investments devised by NPX.

The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are seeking to question the defunct firm’s former employees and banks, the NYT reports. That’s likely to keep concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies and role in the 2016 elections in the news.

Elsewhere on Facebook: The company says it deleted 583 million fake accounts, and has reportedly pushed up its content-review budget. Mark Zuckerberg is snubbing Britain’s Parliament. Some nurses at San Francisco’s general hospital want his name off the building.

Elsewhere in tech: Inside Tencent’s frenetic deal-making. Masa Son has high hopes for SoftBank’s next Vision Fund, and Japan probably should, too. Lyft joined Uber in eliminating mandatory arbitration for sexual misconduct cases. The Pentagon wants a nuclear-grade cloud.

• Investors’ holdings of Apple dropped by the most since the first quarter of 2008.

• Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway raised its stakes in Teva Pharmaceutical and Monsanto.

• Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management bought nearly 2 million shares in United Technologies. (A new book criticizes several of Mr. Ackman’s big moves.)

• David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital invested in Office Depot and Abercrombie & Fitch.

• Stanley Druckenmiller bet on Alibaba and sold out of Facebook.

The famed author died yesterday at 88. Business was one of his big subjects, as his obituaries noted:

• On “The Bonfire of the Vanities”: “a sweeping, bitingly satirical picture of money, power, greed and vanity in New York during the shameless excesses of the 1980s.” (NYT)

• “‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ wickedly dissected the Wall Street money-grubbing crowd who thought they were rulers of the universe. ‘A Man In Full’ did the same for the American myth of the self-made mogul, as well as, perhaps, being a disguised story of himself.” (FT)

• On “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”: “one of the great chronicles of Silicon Valley culture — although it wasn’t clear that it was about Silicon Valley at the time.” (CNBC)

• Two Tesla energy executives, Arch Padmanabhan and Bob Rudd, have left. (Bloomberg)

• Two senior UBS bankers — Severin Brizay, its head of M. & A. for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Laurent Dhome, a private equity specialist — are reportedly joining Bank of America. (Bloomberg)

• The human resources start-up Namely ousted its C.E.O., Matt Straz, over unspecified misconduct claims. (Bloomberg)

• Jay-Z finally sat down for questioning by the S.E.C. It may be getting harder to prove fraud against sophisticated investors.

• The world is borrowing more. Investors are wary of companies spending more.

• Fox settled discrimination lawsuits involving 18 current or former employees for $10 million. (NYT)

• The messaging business WeChat is reportedly considering a service for bankers in China. (FT)

• Six more states sued the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma. That makes 22. (Reuters)

• How Qatar is rebuilding in the face of a blockade led by Saudi Arabia. (FT)

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