The daily business briefing: April 30, 2018
T-Mobile and Sprint agree to a $26.5 billion merger, Avengers: Infinity War sets box office records, and more
T-Mobile and Sprint agree to $26.5 billion merger
T-Mobile US Inc. on Sunday agreed to buy fellow cellphone carrier Sprint Corp. in a $26.5 billion merger. The deal, if permitted by antitrust regulators, would create a company with about $74 billion in annual revenue and 70 million wireless subscribers, rivaling AT&T, which is the industry's No. 2 company with $72 billion in annual wireless revenue and 78 million subscribers. The No. 1 wireless carrier, Verizon, has $88 billion in annual revenue and 111 million subscribers. T-Mobile, which is owned by Deutsche Telekom, and Sprint, which is owned by Japan's SoftBank, would both have representatives on the board. The merger news helped nudge U.S. stock futures higher, keeping the Dow Jones Industrial Average on track to post a monthly gain as April ends.
Avengers: Infinity War breaks box office records
The Marvel super-mashup Avengers: Infinity War brought in an estimated $250 million at the domestic box office over the weekend, setting the record for the biggest opening weekend ever in the U.S. and Canada. The previous No. 1 in the U.S. market, 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, made $247.9 million in its debut. The film, which cost $300 million to make, collected $630 million worldwide, also a record, even before opening in China, according to ComScore. Marvel Studios now has six of the 10 films with the biggest opening weekends. Disney, which made the film with Marvel, has nine of the Top 10, and set a record this year as the studio to hit the $1 billion domestic box office mark fastest.
Ex-casino CEO Steve Wynn sues former worker for defamation
Former casino mogul Steve Wynn is suing former Wynn Resorts employee Jorgen Nielsen for defamation, saying Nielsen spread "false and defamatory" stories about sexual misconduct by Wynn. Nielsen, ex-artistic director of the Wynn Las Vegas salon, was quoted in news coverage that detailed years of alleged mistreatment of women by Wynn, including that he forced staffers to perform sex acts on him. Wynn has called the allegations part of a smear campaign orchestrated by his ex-wife, Elaine Wynn. After the allegations surfaced, Wynn quit as Republican National Committee finance chairman in January, then resigned as CEO of Wynn Resorts in February.
Yellow Fever restaurant in Whole Foods '365' store triggers controversy
Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market faced a barrage of criticism over the weekend after the newest store in its 365 grocery chain partnered with an Asian restaurant called Yellow Fever. The term refers both to a mosquito-borne tropical infection that kills thousands annually, and slang for a white man's sexual attraction to Asian women. "An Asian 'bowl' resto called YELLOW FEVER in the middle of whitest Whole Foods — is this taking back of a racist image or colonized mind?" Columbia University professor and author Marie Myung-Ok Lee wrote on Twitter. Executive chef and co-founder Kelly Kim said Yellow Fever is "a proud Asian, female-owned business" that "celebrates all things Asian: the food, the culture, and the people."
Walmart to sell British Asda arm to rival Sainsbury
Walmart announced Monday that it would sell its Asda Group arm in the U.K. to rival J Sainsbury PLC. Walmart will get a 42 percent stake in the combined company, which values the chain at $10.1 billion. Walmart also will get $4.1 billion in cash. Walmart acquired Asda in 1999, and it has been one of the U.S. retail giant's most profitable businesses. The unit's growth has been limited by competition from Tesco, Amazon, and discounters Aldi and Lidl. The merger, if it goes through, will create Britain's largest grocery market chain, giving it an edge in a highly competitive market.