Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 21, 2018

Disney raises its bid for 21st Century Fox, four airlines refuse to fly migrant kids separated from parents, and more


Disney sweetens bid for 21st Century Fox

Disney on Wednesday raised its offer for 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets to $71.3 billion. Fox accepted the offer but shareholders still have to vote on it, giving Comcast or others time to make higher bids. Comcast's recent $65 billion cash-only bid had trounced a previous Disney offer of $52.4 billion in stock. Both companies want to beef up their content to contend with Netflix and other streaming-video rivals. If the Disney deal goes through, it will acquire the 21st Century Fox film and TV studio, Fox's American cable channels, and the U.K.-based Sky News. An unnamed "New Fox," focused on news and sports, would retain Fox News, Fox Sports, and Fox's TV stations. The deal requires Justice Department approval, but a judge's recent rejection of an antitrust challenge to the AT&T-Time Warner merger bodes well for Disney.


Four U.S. airlines want no part in separating migrant kids from parents

American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest, and Frontier Airlines on Wednesday all asked the federal government not to use their aircrafts to transfer migrant children who have been separated from their families at the border. Trump reversed the policy on Wednesday but didn't address the status of 2,300 children already separated from their parents. All four of the airlines said they had no evidence they had flown any of the children yet. United said it wants "no part" of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policies, "based on our serious concerns about this policy and how it's in deep conflict with our company's values." American said "we have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it." The Department of Homeland Security called the requests "unfortunate" and unpatriotic.


White House to propose merging Labor and Education departments

The White House is preparing a proposal to merge the Labor and Education departments, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the plan. The announcement, planned for Thursday morning, is coming after a months-long review of Cabinet agencies as part of an effort to reduce the size of the federal government. Any such change would require the approval of Congress, which has been reluctant to get behind previous efforts to eliminate federal agencies. Combining the Labor and Education departments reflects the Trump administration's desire to shift higher-education programs toward more directly training and preparing students to join the workforce.


Tesla accuses former employee of hacking

Tesla on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in a Nevada federal court accusing a former employee of hacking trade secrets from the electric car maker and handing over data to third parties. Tesla said the former employee, Martin Tripp, worked in the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. The company said in the $1 million suit that Tripp admitted to writing software to hack into its manufacturing operating system, and that he sent several gigabytes of Tesla data to third parties. Tesla said Tripp put the software on other people's computers to cover his tracks and implicate others. Tripp said he didn't tamper with Tesla's systems, describing himself as a whistleblower who spoke out about "some really scary things," including dangerously punctured batteries installed in cars.


Harvard doctor to head Berkshire Hathaway, J.P. Morgan, Amazon health initiative

Berkshire Hathaway, J.P. Morgan, and Amazon announced Wednesday that Dr. Atul Gawande would lead their joint health-care venture.
The three companies unveiled their plans for the health program in January, saying it would aim to provide employees with comprehensive health care while keeping down rising costs by being "free from profit-making incentives and constraints." Gawande is the founding executive director of health-systems innovation center Ariadne Labs. He also is a general and endocrine surgeon at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School.


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