Business briefing

The daily business briefing: August 21, 2017

Sempra outbids Warren Buffett for Oncor, more charities cancel events at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club, and more

1

Sempra beats Buffett's Berkshire with $9.45 billion bid for Oncor

Bankrupt Texas utility Energy Future Holdings dropped a $9 billion deal to sell power transmission company Oncor to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, and instead will accept a $9.45 billion bid from Sempra Energy. The deal, valued at about $18.8 billion including debt, marks a rare defeat for Buffett, who is famous for avoiding bidding wars. Berkshire last week issued a statement saying it would not be raising its offer, which it made two months ago after Texas regulators blocked two earlier sale attempts. The deal is key to Energy Future's effort to exit bankruptcy after more than three years of work to restructure almost $50 billion of debt. A bankruptcy court judge in Delaware was scheduled to consider Berkshire's offer on Monday.

2

More charities cancel Mar-a-Lago galas over Trump comments

Charities over the weekend continued to cancel fundraising events at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, citing objections to Trump's statements blaming "both sides" for the deadly violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally. The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach and the Palm Beach Zoo and Conservation Society canceled galas at Mar-a-Lago, following similar announcements by the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Susan G. Komen on Friday. At least nine of the 16 galas and dinners scheduled in the next winter social season have now been canceled. The founder of the Susan G. Komen organization, Nancy G. Brinker, wrote on Facebook that there was no excuse for hedging criticism of racism, saying: "There are no 'sides.' They are always wrong. Period."

3

U.S., Mexico, and Canada finish first round of NAFTA renegotiations

The Trump administration wrapped up the first round of NAFTA renegotiations with Canada and Mexico on Sunday. Although the initial trade deal took years to negotiation, the three countries' trade representatives said in a joint statement that they would press forward with talks at a rapid pace, with the next round running from Sept. 1 to Sept. 5. The three countries are aiming to reach a deal on a full modernization of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement by early 2018. President Trump has criticized the trade pact as unfair to the U.S., threatening to scrap it without major changes to reduce U.S. trade deficits and reverse what he said had been losses of thousands of U.S. jobs to Mexico, where companies pay lower wages.

4

Ex-GE CEO Jeff Immelt reportedly frontrunner for Uber CEO job

Former General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt has emerged as the frontrunner to replace ousted co-founder Travis Kalanick as CEO of Uber, Recode reported Sunday, citing sources with knowledge of the discussions. The board is expected to vote within two weeks, and there are two other candidates still in the running, so nothing is yet certain. Neither of the other candidates is a woman, as some had hoped in the aftermath of the sexual harassment reports at the ride-hailing company. The board is still divided, but many feel that the company needs to hire someone to move past the negative publicity that has swirled around the company for months. "We know it is never going to be a perfect choice, but everyone is becoming exhausted."

5

The Hitman's Bodyguard leads weekend box office with $21.6 million debut

The Hitman's Bodyguard, an R-rated comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, led the weekend box office, hauling in $21.6 million domestically in its debut. The successful sales came despite a low 39 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film review site. The movie far outpaced Logan Lucky, a NASCAR-themed heist film starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Daniel Craig that got a 93 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Logan Lucky earned just $8.1 million, ranking in third place over the weekend. At No. 2 was Annabelle: Creation, which earned $15.5 million in its second week.

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