DealBook Briefing: Welcome to Media Merger Fight Club

Good Thursday morning. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.) Today, we’ll be watching the 21st FIFA World Cup kick off in Moscow. Russia, the hosts, will play Saudi Arabia in the first game.

Comcast unveiled its $65 billion bid for the bulk of 21st Century Fox yesterday — less than 24 hours after AT&T was cleared to buy Time Warner. That means it’s facing Walt Disney in what might end up as the media industry’s biggest takeover battle this decade. (Here are the details of Comcast’s bid.)

How the fight plays out depends on whether the Justice Department’s antitrust team, fresh from a crushing defeat over Time Warner, intervenes in the Comcast bid. Comcast executives emphatically asserted on an analyst call yesterday that AT&T’s win had cleared the way for their deal. Will Rupert Murdoch and other Fox shareholders agree?

Worth noting: Comcast’s offer is higher than Disney’s ($65 billion versus $52.4 billion), and all in cash as opposed to stock. But Tara Lachapelle of Bloomberg Opinion argues it isn’t a clear-cut winner.

What now? Disney has the right to beat Comcast’s proposal — and the determination to do so. Fox shareholders are set to vote on Disney’s offer on July 10, but that meeting could be pushed back if a bidding war breaks out. Which it almost certainly will.


Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.


WeWork has no shortage of ambition — and SoftBank, which is in talks to invest again in the co-working company — is willing to open its wallet to help out. The next investment by the Japanese tech giant’s $92 billion Vision Fund could value WeWork at more than $35 billion.

What Rajeev Misra, the head of that fund, said of WeWork at a conference yesterday, according to Business Insider:

Michael de la Merced wonders: WeWork says it’s profitable, if one excludes interest, taxes, marketing, administration and other costs. But with its ever-expanding mission — in education, housing and more — will it ever stop raising cash and giving away valuable equity?

America’s central bank raised interest rates on Wednesday by a quarter point, to a range of 1.75 to 2 percent. And it hinted at two more increases this year, inching rates back toward historically normal levels.

The challenge now: to balance America’s growing economy and falling unemployment. More from Greg Ip of the WSJ:

• The White House may try to prevent Congress from reimposing penalties on ZTE, after all. (NYT)

• Senator Jim Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, and a longtime friend of Scott Pruitt, said that the E.P.A. chief may need to resign. (Bloomberg)

• Tim Draper, the venture capitalist, got his proposal to split California in three on to the state’s ballot in November. (NYT)

• Senate Democrats want the S.E.C. to investigate Michael Piwowar, a Republican commissioner who criticized Citigroup’s stance on gun investments. (Bloomberg)

Reports from inside two of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies offer evidence that the robots are coming:

• Replacing warehouse staff. Axios reports that the Chinese e-commerce company has “built a big new Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack and ship 200,000 orders a day. It employs four people — all of whom service the robots.”

• Automating office work. Bloomberg says that Amazon executives who negotiated multimillion-dollar deals with major brands “are being replaced by software that predicts what shoppers want and how much to charge for it.”

Jamie Condliffe’s take: Companies like to say that automation will free staff to do work that robots can’t, as happened in previous technological revolutions. But a warehouse that needs just four employees is a reminder that the disruption caused by A.I. and robotics could be unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Elsewhere in automation: Microsoft is reportedly experimenting with checkout-free retail, and talking to Walmart about it.

• Sinclair’s $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune could be slowed by government scrutiny of its deal to sell three TV stations to an ally, the conservative pundit Armstrong Williams. (Politico)

• Shares in the Dutch payments processor Adyen nearly doubled in their first day of trading yesterday, but investors should take a breath. (Bloomberg Opinion)

• Opendoor, a house-flipping start-up backed by Travis Kalanick, is said to have raised $325 million at a valuation of over $2 billion — and is still in talks to raise more from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. (Recode)

• Samsung has set up the Q Fund to invest in A.I. start-ups. (VentureBeat)

The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, says that Mr. Musk’s Boring Company has been selected to build a futuristic underground transport system, whizzing passengers from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport.

More from Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith of the NYT:

But there are roadblocks ahead. Chicago’s City Council would need to agree to the plan. The city must negotiate a deal with the Boring Company. It will be expensive — up to $1 billion, on current estimates. Oh, and such a system has never been built before.

• ZTE is looking for a $11 billion credit line. (FT)

• Cryptocurrencies are supposed to make bank payments cheaper. Western Union’s experiments suggest that isn’t yet the case. (Fortune)

• Apple will close an iPhone security hole favored by the police. (NYT)

• From next year, reportedly, China will begin electronically tracking every new car on its roads. (WSJ)

• A new study found that Bitcoin prices were artificially inflated last year. (NYT)

The CNBC host Jim Cramer has pitched a simple way for investors to choose where to put their money: Look at what companies with market capitalizations of $100 billion are doing. More from Mr. Cramer:

• G.M. named Dhivya Suryadevara as C.F.O. It now has women in its two top management positions, a first in the auto industry. (Bloomberg)

• Carlos Ghosn said he was likely to step down as Renault’s C.E.O. before his contract is up in 2022. (FT)

• Rolls-Royce plans to cut 4,600 jobs. (BBC)

• German prosecutors fined Volkswagen $1.2 billion over its diesel emissions scandal. (NYT)

• The billions Russia is spending on the World Cup may not boost its economy in the long term. (Bloomberg)

• A court case involving a British plumber might provide some lessons for gig economy companies. (NYT)

• China’s economy shows some early signs of losing momentum. (Bloomberg)

You can find live updates throughout the day at

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to


Related posts


Leave a comment