Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 19, 2018

The Senate backs reinstating penalties against ZTE, Trump threatens more tariffs against China, and more


Senate backs reinstating ZTE penalties in rebuke of Trump

The Senate on Monday passed a bill seeking to reimpose a ban on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. The defense spending bill was passed by a vote of 85-10, and must still be reconciled with the House version. A provision of the measure would prohibit the U.S. government from buying or subsidizing equipment from ZTE and another Chinese telecom company, Huawei, among other penalties. U.S. lawmakers consider ZTE a national security threat, and are concerned that its equipment could be used to spy on the U.S. and carry out cyberattacks. In April, the Commerce Department enacted a seven-year ban on American companies doing business with ZTE, but President Trump in May tweeted that he was working to keep ZTE afloat because "too many jobs in China" were being lost.


Trump threatens more tariffs against China

President Trump on Monday threatened to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods unless Beijing gives in to Trump's demands, which he says will make trade between the two countries more fair. Trump last week finalized tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports in retaliation for levies China slapped on U.S. goods after Trump's first round of levies. Trump threatened to go even further if China takes another shot in an escalating trade war. "This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage," Trump said Monday. China said Trump's threat violated "market laws" and the terms of previous negotiations. U.S. stock futures plunged ahead of Tuesday's open on the rising tensions.


Local billionaire takes over Los Angeles Times

Tech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong took ownership of the Los Angeles Times on Monday, bringing the newspaper under local ownership for the first time in nearly 20 years. Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, bought the Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and the rest of the California News Group for $500 million. He told employees in a memo that he hopes to make the Times competitive with The New York Times and The Washington Post. The Times was previously owned by Tronc, the Chicago-based newspaper group, but the company announced its intention to sell it in February. On his first day as owner, Soon-Shiong named veteran newspaper executive Norman Pearlstine as the paper's top editor in a bid for stability.


Trump administration to offer health plans with reduced benefits, costs

The Trump administration is finalizing plans for a health insurance option for small businesses and self-employed people that covers fewer benefits than current plans but costs less, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing congressional officials and business sources. The Labor Department scheduled an announcement Tuesday morning. The new "association health plans" still would have to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but they could offer fewer benefits than required under ObamaCare, and they could be marketed across state lines, which President Trump has advocated as a way to bring down premiums. The Trump administration has focused on loosening Affordable Care Act requirements since failing to repeal the health law outright.


SurveyMonkey confidentially files for IPO

U.S. online survey company SurveyMonkey on Monday revealed that it had confidentially filed to go public. The company said it had registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission through its parent SVMK for an initial public offering of stock. The company said it had not yet decided how many shares to offer, or what the price range would be. Reuters reported in May that SurveyMonkey had hired investment bank JPMorgan Chase to help it prepare for an IPO. The company gives businesses a tool allowing them to survey customers on products, customer service, and other matters.


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