Business briefing

The daily business briefing: January 17, 2017

Stocks struggle on uncertainty over Brexit and Trump, Theresa May spells out her Brexit plan, and more

1

Stocks struggle on uncertainty over Brexit, Trump policies

Global stocks struggled for footing on Tuesday as investors reacted to rising uncertainty over Britain's exit from the European Union and the impact of President-elect Donald Trump's promised policies. The price of gold, a favorite haven of jittery investors, rose to its highest level since November. "The market is taking a reality check from Trump euphoria, equity markets are moving sideways, the dollar has steadied and bond yields are down, allowing gold to recover," Julius Baer commodities analyst Carsten Menke said.

2

Theresa May calls for hard Brexit in long-awaited speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a clean break with the European Union in a long-awaited Tuesday speech, saying that the U.K. will leave the E.U.'s single market but still "seek the greatest possible access to it through a new comprehensive, bold, and ambitious free trade agreement." May indicated that controlling Britain's borders is the government's priority, even if it means losing trading advantages. She said an "independent, self-governing" Britain would seek "a new and equal partnership" with the countries in the E.U.

3

Two eyewear giants plan $49 billion merger

Essilor of France said on Monday that it planned to merge with Luxottica Group of Italy in a deal worth $49 billion. The combined company, EssilorLuxottica, would bring together the industry's two largest companies to form the largest eyewear maker in the world. Essilor makes lenses, and Luxottica makes eyeglasses and sunglasses under numerous brand names, including Ray-Ban and Oakley. The new company will have more than 140,000 employees. It will bring together a host of brands and stores, including Foster Grant, Oliver Peoples, Persol, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, and Sunglass Hut.

4

Push to arrest Samsung chief puts leadership plan in doubt

Samsung's succession plan has been thrown into doubt as prosecutors seek the arrest of the South Korean technology giant's de facto chief and heir apparent, board Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee, in connection with the influence peddling scandal that got President Park Geun-hye stripped of her powers. A judge on Wednesday will consider whether to arrest Lee on charges of paying more than $36 million in bribes to an organization linked to Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Park's at the center of the scandal. Lee also has been accused of embezzlement and perjury, but denies any wrongdoing.

5

British American Tobacco reaches $49 billion merger deal with Reynolds American

British American Tobacco said Tuesday that it had reached a $49 billion deal to buy the 57.8 percent of Reynolds American that it did not already own. The agreement came after British American Tobacco sweetened the initial offer of about $47 billion that it made nearly three months ago. The combined company would bring together some of the industry's best-known brands, including Camel, Lucky Strike, Newport, and Pall Mall.

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