The daily business briefing: May 28, 2019

Image
Harold Maass
The stars of Aladdin
Rich Fury/Getty Images

1.

Meredith sells Sports Illustrated brand for $110 million

Meredith Publishing has sold the Sports Illustrated brand to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million, the companies announced Monday night. In an unusual arrangement, Meredith will continue to operate the Sports Illustrated website and biweekly magazine, paying a licensing fee, for a minimum of two years. Authentic Brands, a licensing company, will control the magazine's intellectual property, including its archive of more than two million images and its swimsuit-edition and Sportsperson of the Year brands. Authentic Brands controls Juicy Couture, Nautica, and parts of estates including Muhammad Ali's and Elvis Presley's. Meredith acquired the Sports Illustrated brand when it bought Time Inc. in January 2018. [The New York Times, Variety]

2.

Aladdin leads the box office in a better-than-expected debut

Aladdin topped the box office over the long Memorial Day weekend, bringing in $112.7 million in its four-day debut. The Disney live-action film's opening was the fifth biggest Memorial Day weekend opening ever, with Disney's 2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End still holding the record at $139 million. Aladdin far surpassed the studio's pre-opening domestic projection of a haul between $75 million and $85 million in the latest sign of Disney's success remaking animated classics. Lionsgate's John Wick: Chapter 3 fell to second place in its second weekend, bringing in $31 million. Avengers: Endgame added $22.3 million to bring its North America total to $803.3 million. Its global total is the second biggest ever at $2.68 billion, about $100 million short of Avatar's record.

3.

Renault board studies Fiat Chrysler merger proposal 'with interest'

Fiat Chrysler officially proposed "a potential 50/50 merger transaction" with France's Groupe Renault, the French automaker said in a brief statement Monday. Renault called the plan a "friendly proposal," and said its board had "decided to study with interest" the opportunity of such a business combination, which it said would improve Groupe Renault's manufacturing footprint and boost its alliance with Japanese automakers Nissan and Mitsubishi. Renault reportedly is examining the proposal without input from its alliance partners, and it was not immediately clear how Nissan and Mitsubishi would react. Renault had hoped to merge with Nissan, but that plan fell apart after Japanese authorities arrested Carlos Ghosn, the former leader of the companies, on financial misconduct charges. [CNET, The Associated Press]

4.

Canada kicks off effort to ratify new North American trade deal

Canada started the process of ratifying the new North American trade agreement on Monday, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland presenting a "ways and means motion" in the House of Commons to open the formal presentation of the bill. The first step toward ratification came three days before a scheduled visit to Ottawa by Vice President Mike Pence, who will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to talk about how to move the treaty forward. The Trump administration agreed this month to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico, eliminating one key obstacle to winning approval of the trilateral deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. [Reuters]

5.

Oklahoma opioid trial gets underway

The first state trial in a wave of lawsuits over the opioid epidemic gets underway in Oklahoma on Tuesday. The state's attorney general, Mike Hunter, is accusing Johnson & Johnson, the nation's largest drugmaker, of contributing to the abuse of the powerful painkillers, which have killed thousands of Oklahoma residents. One of the remaining defendants in the case, Teva Pharmaceuticals of Jerusalem, on Sunday announced an $85 million settlement with Oklahoma two days ahead of the trial's start. The company said the money was not evidence it had "contributed to the abuse of opioids in Oklahoma in any way." Johnson & Johnson is now the only company left as a defendant in the trial. [NPR, The Washington Post]