In Brief: CLO Edition
2018 May 24
Today's Top Story
Canada Blocks Chinese Takeover Over Security Concerns
Canada has blocked a CA$1 billion takeover of a construction firm by a state-controlled Chinese company over national security concerns, a rare move by a government that until now has largely welcomed such deals despite growing skepticism over Chinese money elsewhere. On 23 May, the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it stopped the deal for the Aecon Group, a construction company that helped to build the landmark CN Tower in Toronto, following a review that began earlier this year. The deal became politically charged after members of Canada's opposition party raised concerns about Aecon's access to government contracts—particularly in the nuclear power industry—and the Chinese company's ties to the Chinese state, reports the New York Times (23 May, Stevenson).
Mergers and Acquisitions
Comcast Goes Public on Plan for Fox
Comcast is escalating its threat to disrupt Walt Disney's deal to buy the bulk of 21st Century Fox's assets, a potential move that could reshape the power structure in the entertainment industry, reports the Wall Street Journal (24 May, Ramachandran, Schwartzel). Comcast confirms that it is close to making a cash offer that would top Disney's all-stock, US$52.4 billion deal for Fox's entertainment businesses. In 2017, Fox's board of directors rejected Comcast's initial bid, because directors believed it was more risky than Disney's with regulators and would call for the sale of too many valuable assets in order to win approval. Since then, Comcast has been laying the groundwork to make a case for why it should be the one to acquire Fox's assets, setting the stage for a potential bidding war that would pit Comcast CEO Brian Roberts against Disney CEO Robert Iger for businesses long controlled by media titan Rupert Murdoch.
Australia's AMP Appoints David Cullen as Group General Counsel
Australia's largest wealth manager, AMP, said it would appoint David Cullen as the group's general counsel effective immediately. Cullen's appointment comes after an independent inquiry into Australia's financial sector revealed AMP lied to the corporate regulator for a decade, leading to the departure of its top management. Cullen replaces former in-house lawyer Brian Salter, who has resigned, reports Reuters (23 May).
Cyber Insurance Claims From European Companies Increase
A wave of ransomware attacks on European companies is causing a boom in cyber insurance claims. Data from AIG, one of the largest cyber insurers, shows its business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa received as many cyber claims last year as in the previous four years combined. Ransomware hit the news last summer when WannaCry and other viruses infected companies around the world, causing billions of dollars worth of damage and lost business, reports the Financial Times (24 May, Ralph).
LifeBridge Data Breach Exposes Personal Information of 500,000 Patients
Earlier this week, the Baltimore Sun (22 May, McDaniels) reports, LifeBridge Health notified approximately 500,000 patients that their personal data may have been exposed in a recently discovered cyberattack. Indication of an attack was initially detected back in March. A subsequent investigation by an unnamed national forsenic firm hired by the Baltimore-based health system determined that the data breach occurred on 27 September 2016. LifeBridge Health notified patients by letter last week.
U.S. Companies Wrestle With New European Privacy Rules
U.S. companies are less prepared than their European counterparts for the EU privacy rules coming into force on 25 May, with many rushing to make last-minute changes. Some small companies, such as tech start-ups, video games makers, and ad-tech businesses that specialize in data crunching for marketers are among those choosing to pull out of Europe all together. The complex rulebook often requires companies to transform software, policies, and processes to comply, reports the Financial Times (24 May, Kuchler). Less than a quarter of U.S. respondents were confident they would meet the deadline when surveyed last month by the Ponemon Institute.
Exxon Pledges to Cut Methane Emissions
Exxon Mobil Corp. on Wednesday announced plans to cut methane emissions 15 percent by 2020, reports the Wall Street Journal (23 May, Elliott, Kent), the latest in a series of pledges by major oil companies to voluntarily curtail releases of the potent greenhouse gas. The company also said it intends to cut flaring, or the burning of natural gas, by 25 percent over that same time span. Exxon's moves come amid increased pressure from investors on big oil companies to disclose climate-related business risks and enact measures to reduce emissions linked to global warming.
Rusal CEO and Seven Directors Resign
Sanctions-hit Russian aluminum producer Rusal said its chief executive and seven directors had resigned, in a bid by the crisis-wracked company to distance itself from its oligarch owner Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska and his entire aluminum-to-automobiles business empire was put under crippling U.S. sanctions in April, cutting him and his companies off from dollar transactions and from doing business with U.S. citizens, reports the Financial Times (24 May, Woodhouse, Foy). Rusal has seen its market value more than halve since then, and the company has scrambled to find ways to continue doing business as directors, customers, and investors have cut ties.
U.S. to Probe Whether Auto Imports Hurt National Security
The U.S. Commerce Department said it will open a so-called Section 232 investigation into whether imports of vehicles and auto parts harm national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said there is some evidence that imports from abroad have eroded "our domestic auto industry," reports Reuters (23 May, Beech).
Revlon Names its First Female CEO
Fast Company (22 May, Mohan) reports that Revlon is promoting Debra Perelman to president and CEO. Perelman was elevated to CFO just four months ago. She is the daughter of chairman Ronald Perelman, who owns 80 percent of Revlon through his MacAndrews & Forbes investment firm. The younger Perelman is set to become one of a small number of females running large, publicly held companies. Just 24 women sit atop Fortune 500 companies, and top female leadership is surprisingly scarce among beauty giants. Rivals L'Oréal and Estée Lauder are helmed by men. Perelman dismissed the notion that nepotism had anything to do with her appointment, saying her father's controlling interest in Revlon is "just a fact."
Spanish-Language Broadcaster Univision to Name Vincent Sadusky as CEO
In the latest sign of turmoil at the Spanish-language broadcasting company, Univision Communications has decided on industry veteran Vincent Sadusky to be its new CEO, confirms the Los Angeles Times (22 May, James). The changing of the guard comes less than three months after Univision announced that Randy Falco, its longtime chief, would retire by year's end even though the company had just extended his contract to 2020. Sadusky was chief executive of the Virginia-based TV station owner Media General Inc. until it was acquired by Nexstar Media Group in early 2017. He previously oversaw LIN Media, another TV station owner, until that company was absorbed by Media General. Earlier in his career, Sadusky worked as chief financial officer of another major Spanish-language television company, Telemundo. He also is a board member at Hemisphere Media Group, which provides programming targeting Latin American audiences.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Large Companies Join Forces to Hire 40,000 Canadian Youth
Eight large companies have joined forces under the banner Opportunity for All Youth to hire 40,000 youth facing employment barriers over the next five years, starting by offering more than 150 jobs to young people in Toronto this June. The announcement was made 23 May by Starbucks, Walmart, Chipotle, HMSHost, Tridel Corporation, The Source, Coast Capital Savings, and Telus. The coalition, backed by the MaRS Discovery District and local governments, specifically targets youths who are not in education, employment, or training between the ages of 16 and 29, reports CBC News (23 May, Simmons).