Frontrunning: August 19

  • European shares, oil ease as markets return to Fed-watching (Reuters)
  • Brent crude slides, but on track for third week of gains (Reuters)
  • Rio 2016: Lochte’s Teammates, USOC Join With Police in Discrediting Robbery Story (WSJ)
  • OPEC Freeze Wouldn’t Be So Potent as Gulf Rivals Pump More (BBG)
  • Hackers targeted Trump campaign, Republican Party groups (Reuters)
  • Key Figure in 1MDB Probe Is Arrested in Abu Dhabi (WSJ)
  • VW’s German Production Grinding to Halt Over Spat With Supplier (BBG)
  • NBC’s $12 Billion Olympics Bet Stumbles, Thanks to Millennials (BBG)
  • Ukrainian MP offers more details on alleged payments to Trump campaign chief (Reuters)
  • Viacom, Sumner Redstone Near Settlement Ousting CEO Philippe Dauman (WSJ)
  • Merkel sees no end to EU sanctions against Russia (Reuters)
  • Gap Faces a World That Doesn’t Want to Be Normal Anymore (BBG)
  • Dividends Eat Up Bigger Slice of Company Profits (WSJ)
  • Chicago Schools Step Back From Brink Ahead of Bond-Market Return (BBG)
  • Monte dei Paschi CEO, former chairman under investigation (Reuters)
  • Bank Mergers Heading for Seven-Year High, Pushed by Costly Rules (BBG)
  • Everybody Has a Plan for Fannie and Freddie But Nothing Gets Done (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

- The Obama administration said for the first time on Thursday that its $400 million cash payment to Iran in January was used as "leverage" to gain the release of American prisoners, fueling criticism that the exchange amounted to the U.S. paying ransom. http://on.wsj.com/2bgV1bC

- Viacom Inc Chief Executive Philippe Dauman would relinquish his position as part of a settlement the company is completing with Redstone's National Amusements Inc, a deal that would end a leadership crisis that has engulfed the media giant. http://on.wsj.com/2b331Jt

- Big companies are handing more of their profits to shareholders than at any time since the financial crisis. In the second quarter, 44 S&P 500 companies paid an annual dividend that exceeded their latest 12 months of net income, according to data from FactSet. http://on.wsj.com/2b7NAlr

- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea, plan to stop raising money for the Clinton Foundation and turn over operations to independent parties if Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is elected president. http://on.wsj.com/2b4HAuW

- Uber Technologies Inc will begin using self-driving taxis to ferry customers around Pittsburgh as soon as this month, a first for the industry in a race among automobile and technology companies to make driverless cars commercially available. http://on.wsj.com/2b3BcnJ

- "Warcraft," the big-budget summer-movie flop that partially offset dismal receipts in the U.S. by becoming a hit with Chinese audiences, secured a streaming-rights deal in China that some in Hollywood think could signal the start of a new revenue opportunity. http://on.wsj.com/2bwrMiG

- U.S. star swimmer Ryan Lochte's account of being robbed at gunpoint unraveled on Thursday night as Rio police, his teammates and the U.S. Olympic Committee broke from his narrative. Rio police said Lochte's account had been disproved by witnesses and surveillance-camera footage. http://on.wsj.com/2bEMsbG

- Abu Dhabi authorities have arrested Khadem Al Qubaisi, who authorities say is a key figure in an alleged multibillion-dollar fraud related to a Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund. The arrest last week was made in relation to an Abu Dhabi investigation into fraud and corruption, which includes Qubaisi's alleged role in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd affair. http://on.wsj.com/2b5x5Vg

- Wal Mart Stores, previously the poster child of staid retailers, reported strong second-quarter results on Thursday, with sales at established stores up for the eighth consecutive quarter and more shoppers visiting for the seventh period in a row. http://on.wsj.com/2b1wNOR

- T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp have brought unlimited data plans back from extinction. T-Mobile said it would stop selling monthly data packages, while Sprint dropped prices for its unlimited service. http://on.wsj.com/2b3Lm7F

 

FT

- The U.S. CFTC charged Deutsche Bank with a number of swap-reporting abuses, repeated failures of supervision and a violation of a previous order. CFTC, in a complaint filed to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said the bank was not able to report any swap data for multiple asset classes for five days after an April systems outage.

- VTech and LeapFrog are set to come under investigation after Competition and Markets Authority said the proposed $72 million merger could lead to a "substantial lessening of competition".

- Monte dei Paschi di Siena's CEO Fabrizio Viola and former chairman Alessandro Profumo have come under investigation for alleged market manipulation and false accounting.

- Enterprise Products Partners' attempt to buy rival Williams Companies was rejected, but Enterprise is still interested and could make another offer to Williams. The nature of the offer made by Enterprise Products is unknown.

 

NYT

- German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH played a key role in developing the software that let Volkswagen AG cheat on clean air rules, according to new allegations filed in a San Francisco court on behalf of car owners. http://nyti.ms/2b5DqjB

- A truce has been reached in the vicious corporate battle that pitted Sumner Redstone, who controls Viacom Inc and CBS Corp, and his daughter, Shari Redstone, against his longtime confidants and directors at Viacom, according to two people briefed on the agreement. http://nyti.ms/2b5DlMC

- Gawker Media, under financial pressure from a $140 million legal judgment in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit brought by Hulk Hogan, the former professional wrestler, will shut down next week. http://nyti.ms/2b5DdfZ

 

Canada

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

** Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp launched a bond sale on Tuesday with a goal of raising at least C$3 billion ($2.34 billion) for the Crown Corp, and ended up raising C$5.25 billion ($4.10 billion) on Wednesday from a financing that caught the attention of yield-hungry investors. (http://bit.ly/2bscXAA)

** The Royal Bank of Canada has revamped its investment banking team, promoting its long-time mining chief, Gordon Bell, to vice chairman of capital markets and laying off the mining group's managing director. (http://bit.ly/2bsdhzd)

** A new venture capital fund, Impression Ventures Fund II, focused solely on financial technology companies, has raised C$20 million ($15.61 million) from a handful of big-name Canadian investors, including FairVentures Ltd, the innovation unit of Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. (http://bit.ly/2bsexlU)

NATIONAL POST

** EQ Bank, Equitable Bank's online deposit-taking venture, that offered an industry-topping 3 percent interest rate on savings accounts earlier this year, is lowering its rate for the second time. In April, the rate was lowered to 2.25 percent, and will drop to 2 percent as of Aug 25. (http://bit.ly/2bsbWsi)

** Wal-Mart Canada's share of the grocery market grew in the second quarter, but at a significantly slowed rate, as key competitors including Loblaw Cos Ltd and Sobeys Inc fought back with price competition. (http://bit.ly/2bsbiLq)

 

Britain

The Times

Britain's largest brickmaker is to cap the liabilities of its pension fund and block present members from making fresh contributions. Ibstock Plc launched a two-month consultation after announcing proposals to scale back the cost of its final-salary pension scheme, which entitles retiring members to pensions linked to their earnings at the point of retiring. http://bit.ly/2bBj4kx

Sports Direct International Plc has confirmed that it will publish a long-awaited report next month into its working practices after the retailer brought in lawyers to look into allegations of mistreatment of its staff. http://bit.ly/2bBj5ou

The Guardian

The Institute of Directors has backed Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to review the 18.5 billion pounds ($24.32 billion) Hinkley nuclear scheme but launched a savage attack on successive government policies for failing to deliver energy security. http://bit.ly/2bBitit

Hundreds of jobs are at risk at one of Britain's biggest high street retailers, Monsoon Accessorize, after it decided to close its largest shops. http://bit.ly/2bBixyU

The Telegraph

National Grid Plc has slashed its forecasts for the number of big new power plants expected to be built in coming years, while admitting its estimates for the growth of solar farms and other small-scale generators were almost 50 times too low. http://bit.ly/2bBkrzm

Sky News

Jack Wills, the preppy British fashion brand, will gain a new shareholder in the coming days in a deal that will prompt the departure of the former Government minister who chairs the company. http://bit.ly/2bBj6Jf

BP Plc is sounding out top investors on a new boardroom pay policy after a humiliating revolt this year saw a majority of shareholders vote against a 14 million pounds package for its chief executive. http://bit.ly/2bBj4Ru

The Independent

The staggering cost of UK's uncompetitive energy market has been revealed today, as new research shows consumers have handed an extra 18.7 billion pounds to gas and electricity suppliers than if they had regularly switched to the best deals.