Morning Agenda: Yahoo, Asian Conglomerates, Trump and Fox News

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The chief executive of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, at a conference in San Francisco last year. Instead of battling to preserve the price of its original deal with Verizon, Yahoo has opted to renegotiate.

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Stephen Lam/Getty Images

What’s the cost of two enormous data breaches?

About $300 million if you’re Yahoo and you’re trying to sell yourself to Verizon.

Instead of battling to preserve the deal’s original price after two reports of data breaches, Yahoo has opted to renegotiate, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

As well as shaving a few hundred million off the $4.8 billion that Verizon was going to pay, the two companies are expected to share legal responsibility and costs for the data breaches.

Asian Conglomerates Scour the U.S.

They are flush with cash and they want investment management.

Be it SoftBank of Japan or HNA Group of China, Asian companies are looking for expertise to help them invest their stockpiles of money and fulfill their ambitions to become financial conglomerates.

And now seems to be a good time to buy and sell.

After years of disappointing performance, hedge funds and private equity firms are facing challenges from cheaper index-tracking alternatives.

And these Asian firms have an opportunity to diversify at a time when their targets may be cheaper.

Of course these deals haven’t come without questions.

China’s Anbang Insurance Group attracted scrutiny over its ties to Beijings top leadership when it went on a spending spree. And HNA’s deal with SkyBridge helped to end Anthony Scaramucci’s bid to become a top adviser to President Trump.

The Trump Administration

It seems there is demand for the skills of investment managers from the White House, too.

President Trump plans to assign Stephen A. Feinberg, who helped found Cerberus Capital Management, to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials.

Mr. Feinberg’s only experience with national security matters is his firm’s stakes in a private security company and two gun makers.

The intelligence community is already on edge because of criticism from the president.

Now it fears the review could curtail its independence and reduce the flow of information contradicting the president’s worldview.

In other political news:

• The White House has proposed rules to stabilize health insurance markets, which have been roiled by efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, big increases in premiums and the exodus of major insurers. But it is a tricky balancing act.

Mr. Trump is determined to repeal the health care law while the White House and Congress struggle to find a politically acceptable replacement.

The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to answer insurance company concerns, while the Internal Revenue Service and Congress are taking steps that could add uncertainty to the insurance sector.

• The fast-food executive Andrew F. Puzder withdrew his nomination to be labor secretary after Republican senators turned against him.

Democrats, unions and liberal groups had already been attacking Mr. Puzder’s business record, but Republican senators had become uncomfortable about accusations of spousal abuse that resurfaced.

• Workers at Boeing’s South Carolina facilities rejected unionization in a vote that was viewed as an early test of labor’s strength in the Trump era.

Your head may be spinning with all these developments, but markets — which supposedly hate uncertainty — have roared ahead.

For the most part, the scandals affecting this administration have not been related to promises made about the economy.

But despite seeing the most volatile president in recent memory, the market has been largely free of volatility — highlighting investor belief that Mr. Trump will deliver market-friendly policies.

It is also possible that after years of financial and political cataclysms, investors have decided to ignore headlines and focus on the economy, which is not doing so badly. It is even gaining momentum.

Fox News Payments Scrutinized

The United States attorney’s office is examining the way Fox News handled payments related to sexual harassment cases to determine whether the company misled investors, according to the lawyer representing a woman suing the network.

Judd Burstein, who is representing the former Fox anchor Andrea Tantaros, said that he believed federal investigators were looking at whether Fox News structured sexual harassment settlement claims by paying them out in salaries, “so as not to have to report them.”

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16 February 2017 | 10:49 am – Source: nytimes.com