The daily business briefing: March 18, 2019

Harold Maass
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Trump slams GM, union leader for Ohio plant closure

President Trump on Sunday harshly criticized General Motors and an Ohio union leader over an assembly plant that GM closed this month. Trump said he called GM CEO Mary Barra and asked her to sell the plant or "do something quickly." He said she "blamed" the United Automobile Workers union for the decision to shut down the factory. "I don't care," Trump tweeted, "I just want it open!" Trump said "the economy is so good" there is no reason the plant can't succeed. "Democrat UAW Local 1112 President David Green ought to get his act together and produce," Trump tweeted. "G.M. let our Country down, but other much better car companies are coming into the U.S. in droves." Green has written letters to Trump asking him to step in and save the plant. [CNBC]


Facebook says it removed or blocked 1.5 million videos of mosque massacre

Facebook said Sunday it had removed or blocked 1.5 million videos of a gunman's attack on two New Zealand mosques, which killed 50 people and left dozens wounded. The social media company said it had pulled down about 300,000 videos in the first 24 hours after the Friday terrorist attack, which the gunman livestreamed using a helmet cam. Another 1.2 million videos were blocked at upload. New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said Monday that tech companies still have "a lot of work" to do to curb hateful content. She said Facebook's ability to automatically block the uploading of videos of the massacre "tells me there are powers to take a very direct approach to instances of speech that incites violence, or that incites hate." [USA Today, CNN]


DOT investigating FAA approval of Boeing 737 Max jets

Following the second deadly crash of one of Boeing's 737 Max jetliners in five months, the Department of Transportation has launched an investigation into whether there were lapses in the Federal Aviation Administration's approval of the plane, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. Ethiopian authorities say there appear to have been similarities between last week's Ethiopian Airlines crash and October's Lion Air disaster, both of which killed everybody on board. Problems with an automated flight control system are suspected of playing a role. The news sent Boeing's battered stock down, deepening last week's losses, with the shares falling 2.2 percent in pre-market trading Monday. Boeing's slide contributed to a 0.1 percent drop in Dow Jones Industrial Average futures ahead of Monday's open. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]


Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank shares rise on news of merger talks

Shares in Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank rose early Monday after the two German lenders announced on Sunday that they were in talks about a merger. Despite widespread skepticism about whether the banks would benefit from joining forces, Commerzbank shares rose by 6.4 percent Monday morning in Frankfurt, and Deutsche Bank gained 4 percent. Germany's finance minister reportedly favors the deal, but unions fear it could result in big job losses. Germany's two largest banks issued short statements after their management boards met separately on the matter. [The Associated Press]


Lyft starts pitching IPO with valuation of up to $23 billion

Ride-hailing service Lyft on Monday is launching the road show ahead of its initial public offering of stock with its valuation pegged between $21 billion and $23 billion, or $62 to $68 per share, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is aiming to raise about $2 billion in the IPO. Lyft will use its road show to get investors to commit to its new stock rather than waiting to put the money into the upcoming IPO of larger rival Uber. Lyft is portraying itself as a company that has a narrower target on ride-hailing than the more diversified Uber, which is expected to put its valuation as high as $120 billion. Neither company is profitable yet. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]