Business briefing

The daily business briefing: November 20, 2017

Breakdown in German coalition talks weighs on stocks, chip maker Marvell agrees to buy Cavium for $6 billion, and more

1

S&P 500 futures dragged down by breakdown in Germany coalition talks

S&P 500 futures edged down early Monday after government coalition talks broke down in Germany, Europe's largest economy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats had negotiated on taxes, immigration, and environmental issues for weeks with the pro-business Free Democrats and the Greens, trying to form an awkward coalition after inconclusive elections. Now Merkel faces several unappealing possibilities, such as new elections or an attempt to form another "grand coalition" with the center-left Social Democrats, although that party's leaders have repeatedly said they are not interested. The euro fell on the news of the breakdown.

2

Marvell Technology to buy rival chip maker Cavium for $6 billion

Chip maker Marvell Technology Group has agreed to buy smaller rival Cavium Inc. for about $6 billion, according to Sunday reports citing people familiar with the matter. The companies are expected to announce the deal on Monday. Marvell, which has specialized in chips that control traditional hard disk drives, is trying to expand in the networking equipment sector. The company is trying to remake itself after a corporate scandal that resulted in the ouster of its founders under pressure from activist investor Starboard Value LP, which last year won an agreement to nominate three new directors to the company's board. Marvell shares have risen by 46 percent this year.

3

Trump aide says ObamaCare mandate repeal not a dealbreaker on tax bill

President Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House would not insist on repealing the ObamaCare health insurance mandate in the GOP's tax overhaul if opposition to the measure threatened to sink it. "If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we are OK with taking it out," Mulvaney said on CNN's State of the Union. The Senate version of the bill currently includes a provision repealing ObamaCare's individual mandate, but some Republicans object. "I don't think that provision should be in the bill," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). "I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it."

4

Nebraska regulators to decide on Keystone XL pipeline proposal

The five-member Nebraska Public Service Commission is scheduled to decide Monday on whether to approve the final major permit for the proposed route for the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. The regulator's ruling could influence pipeline-operator TransCanada Corp.'s decision on whether to move ahead with construction of the long-delayed project. Some businesses and the Trump administration favor the project, calling it a job creator, but environmentalists and some landowners along the route oppose it. Commission members will not be able to consider last week's oil spill from the existing Keystone pipeline as they weigh the new pipeline route.

5

Alibaba to buy Chinese hypermarket operator Sun Art for $2.9 billion

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. announced Monday that it had reached a $2.9 billion deal to buy a major stake in China big-box retailer Sun Art, which has 446 hypermarkets selling everything from groceries to electronics in 224 Chinese cities under the Auchan and RT-Mart brands. The deal will help Alibaba compete with Walmart and other rivals in brick-and-mortar retail. Alibaba is betting it can use the massive data it gets from its online sales and payments to deliver a better experience to customers in stores. Its push into brick-and-mortar stores comes as another online retail leader, Amazon, makes a similar move with its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods.

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