Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 1, 2017

Discovery agrees to buy Scripps for $11.9 billion, Trump administration slaps sanctions on Venezuela's Maduro, and more

1

Discovery to buy Scripps for $11.9 billion

Discovery Communications is acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive for $11.9 billion, the TV companies announced Monday. The deal, worth $14 billion including Scripps' debt, will unite Scripps' HGTV, Travel Channel, and Food Network, which have strong appeal with female audiences, and Discovery's Animal Planet and Discovery Channel, whose viewers are mostly male. Merging the two operations will give the combined company an expected $350 million in synergies, but TV industry analysts say the larger company could still find it hard to thrive as viewers drop cable subscriptions in favor of more limited streaming video packages.

2

Trump administration slaps sanctions on Venezuela's embattled president

The Trump administration imposed financial sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday over a Sunday election for an assembly to rewrite the country's constitution to give him greater authority. The sanctions freeze Maduro's U.S. assets, and bar Americans from conducting business with him. President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the election, which the opposition called a sham, amounted to an "outrageous seizure of absolute power" in a nation the opposition says Maduro has driven to ruin. "Maduro is not just a bad leader," McMaster said. "He is now a dictator." Maduro responded by mocking Trump, saying, "In the United States, it's possible to become president with three million votes less than your opponent. What a tremendous democracy!"

3

Tesla's stock rattled by Musk's warning of 'manufacturing hell'

Tesla shares dropped by 3.5 percent on Monday after jumping up by 2 percent at the start of the day, the first trading session since the Friday launch of the electric car company's first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan. The stock reversed course after Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk warned that the company would face "manufacturing hell" as it steps up production to meet demand for the $35,000 Model 3. As Musk handed over the first 30 Model 3s to employee buyers at the Friday launch event, he said customers had placed more than half a million advance registrations for Model 3 sedans. His warning about the challenges ahead confirmed fears of some investors who are already skeptical about Tesla's ability to meet its aggressive growth targets.

4

Amazon says it is being investigated for sales possibly violating Iran sanctions

Amazon.com said in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is under federal investigation for possible violations of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Amazon said it sold and delivered about $34,000 worth of books, software, consumer electronics, musical instruments, jewelry, and other products to an Iranian embassy and people linked to Tehran from January 2012 to June 2017. "We are unable accurately to calculate the net profit attributable to these transactions," Amazon said in the filing. "We do not plan to continue selling to these accounts in the future."

5

Lyft ridership soars as it capitalizes on Uber's troubles

Ride-hailing service Lyft reported Monday that it had served more passengers through June this year than it did in all of 2016, when it carried a company record of 162.5 million rides. Lyft said its gains came as some people switched from its much larger rival, Uber, which has faced criticism over its tactics and internal complaints of sexual harassment. Uber has been searching for a new CEO since company co-founder Travis Kalanick left under pressure from the company's board after investigations by outside law firms found widespread sexual harassment at the company.

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