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Microsoft said it was “committed to acquiring” TikTok’s US operations from its Chinese owner ByteDance, following a conversation between chief executive Satya Nadella and Donald Trump.
The US tech group’s statement, its first since the talks with ByteDance emerged, also revealed the potential transaction would include TikTok’s businesses in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where it is facing two government investigations. Any deal involving Microsoft, which would come with a price tag of about $50bn, says our Lex column, would look odd strategically.
The talks, which have been under way for weeks, were thrown into uncertainty on Friday when Mr Trump said he would ban the app as well as any purchase by a US company. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, on Sunday said the administration would “take action” in the coming days against Chinese tech groups. He did not expand on the scope of the proposed action.
However, Chinese tech stocks rallied on Monday as traders focused on buying up names that could benefit from a decoupling of the world’s two biggest economies.
The Trump administration has expressed concern that Chinese ownership of TikTok could put the personal information of 100m US users in the hands of the Chinese government.
Mr Trump’s aggressive posture towards TikTok is making Wall Street executives committed to open markets and foreign investment in the US shudder, writes James Politi in the latest edition of Trade Secrets. Sign up here. (FT, Atlantic, ABC Au)
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In the news
Dollar begins August with gains After the dollar suffered its worst month in a decade in July it has begun the new month with gains. Rating agency Fitch downgraded its outlook on US debt to “negative” from “stable” on Friday, while recent falls for the US currency have triggered a debate about its global role. (FT)
7-Eleven owner to buy Speedway petrol stations unit Marathon Petroleum has agreed to sell its Speedway petrol stations business to the Japanese owner of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain in a $21bn all-cash deal. Over the weekend German health group Siemens Healthineers said it would acquire the US maker of devices and software for cancer treatments, Varian Medical Systems, in a deal worth $16.4bn. (FT)
HSBC profits plunge 96% Europe’s largest lender unveiled an almost seven-fold jump in reserves to cover bad loans. As a result, the bank’s second-quarter net income was almost wiped out, plunging 96 per cent to $192m — far below the $1.3bn expected by analysts. Profits at French bank Société Générale were completely wiped out as it took a hefty charge as part of an overhaul of its struggling investment bank. (FT)
James Murdoch quits board of News Corp Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son resigned from the company board, citing disagreements over editorial content and strategic decisions. Earlier this year the younger Murdoch criticised his father’s news outlets for promoting false scepticism about climate change. (FT)
Deutsche Bank probes Trump banker’s apartment deal Donald Trump’s longtime private banker at Deutsche Bank is facing an internal investigation into the terms of a previously unknown apartment deal with a company co-owned by Mr Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. (FT)
State Street lashes out at proposed ESG rule The world’s third-largest asset manager has lambasted a proposed US rule on the use of environmental, social and governance investing across pension portfolios, arguing that it could jeopardise the retirement incomes of millions of people. (FT)
Facebook accused of failing to deliver on boycott demands Facebook has “failed to deliver” most of its advertisers’ demands on content moderation despite July’s boycott, one of its organisers said, as big brands refused to resume spending. US authorities charged three people over last month’s Twitter hack, including a 17-year-old dubbed the “mastermind” of the breach. (FT)
Wirecard processed payments for mafia-linked casino Wirecard processed payments for a Maltese online casino that was later revealed to have laundered money for Italy’s ’Ndrangheta mafia. Valdis Dombrovskis, EU economy chief, said the Wirecard affair would galvanise Brussels to upgrade financial supervision. (FT)
SpaceX splashdown SpaceX returned two astronauts to earth on Sunday, concluding a historic mission with Nasa to the International Space Station that could open the way to full commercialisation of human space flight. (FT)
Anti-Putin protests Moscow’s arrest of the popular local governor of Russia’s far-east Khabarovsk region has triggered the most sustained protest movement in Vladimir Putin’s more than 20-year rule. (FT)
The day ahead
UK-US trade talks Liz Truss, UK trade secretary, is preparing to criticise “punitive” US tariffs this week as she meets counterparts in Washington for their first face-to-face meeting since negotiations for a trade agreement began. (FT)
Court considers Polish election result Poland’s supreme court will on Monday consider the validity of the July presidential election, when incumbent Andrzej Duda defeated Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski 51 per cent to 49 per cent. (FT)
Genoa bridge reopens Just two years after the Morandi bridge disaster killed 43 people, its replacement opens on Monday — a stark achievement of rapid infrastructure development. (Reuters)
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What else we’re reading
Can the US conduct a fair election? Amid a pandemic and record-low trust in government, concerns are growing that Donald Trump could refuse to accept the result of the November election. Meanwhile, scientists worry about pressure and political interference to deliver a coronavirus vaccine. (FT, NYT)
Here’s where Mr Trump and Joe Biden stand in the polls.
Is it safe to go back to the office? Office evangelists are making the case that most thrive in a lively urban workspace — especially women. Pilita Clark agrees: homeworking is starting to pall, but there may be a simple fix. How safe is it to go back? Lift or stairs? Here’s what the experts say. (FT)
Lunch with the FT “Sport won’t be clean. Never,” Russia’s one-time doping kingpin turned whistleblower tells Murad Ahmed over videochat behind a surgical mask, sunglasses and a straw hat. Grigory Rodchenkov, now under US witness protection, is accustomed to the isolation of lockdown. (FT)
Thousands plagued by post-coronavirus symptoms A baffling array of symptoms, including severe fatigue, foggy brain, raised heartbeat and diarrhoea plague thousands still suffering months after contracting coronavirus. Anjana Ahuja outlines lessons from countries that reopened classrooms successfully. (FT)
College sport stars edge closer to scoring big-money deals US college sports generate vast sums for their institutions in sponsorships, media rights and ticket sales but athletes are not compensated beyond the cost of university attendance under strictly enforced rules. But legal victories for star athletes and state laws coming into force next year have in effect brought down the existing system. (FT)
Turkey’s recovery gamble The collapse of tourism has left a gaping hole in Turkey’s finances just as foreign investors pulled out almost $13bn. In response, Ankara burnt through tens of billions of dollars of reserves — but analysts fear a looming crisis. Tourism’s woes will ripple through numerous sectors, writes Rana Foroohar. (FT)
Status symbols Original art, automobiles and designer handbags have all marked wealth. But for 250 years, the pinnacle was signified by the pineapple. Meanwhile, Covid-19 is threatening the future of Britain’s farmhouse cheeses. (BBC, FT)
Video of the day
Can small restaurants survive coronavirus? In the third of a series of films on how restaurants are adjusting to life after lockdown, food writer Tim Hayward and Daniel Garrahan visit Brixton Village in south London. (FT)