The daily business briefing: April 19, 2021

Rolling Stone publisher buys 50 percent stake in SXSW, a top Republican says a smaller infrastructure bill "could pass," and more

SXSW sign
(Image credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW)

1. Rolling Stone publisher buys 50 percent stake in SXSW

The publisher of Rolling Stone, Billboard, Variety, and other magazines has agreed to buy a 50 percent stake in South by Southwest, the tech, music, and movie festival. SXSW co-founder and Managing Director Roland Swenson on Sunday night told his staff about the deal with P-MRC, the joint venture established last year by Penske Media Corp. and Beverly Hills-based MRC Media & Info. He said SXSW would continue to control and manage the company. "It's been an incredibly tough period for small businesses, SXSW included," Swenson said in a statement. "When Jay Penske came to us with interest in becoming a partner, it was a true lifeline for us."

Austin Chronicle

2. Top Republican says $800 billion infrastructure bill could pass

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a top Republican, said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday that an infrastructure bill with an $800 billion price tag "could pass" with Republican support. President Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan that would upgrade roads and bridges; invest in manufacturing and workforce development; and fund care for senior citizens and disabled Americans. On Monday, Biden will meet with lawmakers to discuss his proposal. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) was also on Fox News Sunday, and said he hopes members of both parties will "roll up our sleeves and sit down and find ways that we can support to make these critically needed investments." Some Republicans have criticized Biden's plan, saying it includes things they don't consider infrastructure, and a corporate tax hike they oppose.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Bitcoin prices plunge after last week's record

Bitcoin prices plunged over the weekend, falling as much as 19.5 percent from last week's record high above $64,800. Bitcoin dropped as low as $52,148.98 early Sunday before climbing back above $55,700, according to CoinDesk. Other cryptocurrencies, including ether and dogecoin, also fell sharply. Ether, the second biggest digital currency by market value, fell by as much as 18 percent on Sunday after it, too, reached record highs last week. Last week's gains came after the success of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase's market debut, which marked a milestone in the mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an investment and form of payment. The weekend's slump followed an unverified report via Twitter that the Treasury Department was preparing to crack down on money laundering using cryptocurrency.


4. Bainum searches for investors for Tribune bid after Swiss billionaire drops out

Maryland hotel executive Stewart Bainum is trying to find investors to help finance his $680 million bid for Tribune Publishing after his first partner, Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, bailed out, The Associated Press reported Sunday, citing a person familiar with the matter. Wyss reportedly told Bainum it would cost too much to make the newspaper chain's flagship Chicago Tribune a leading national publication. Wyss and Bainum had offered $18.50 per share for Tribune, beating a $17.25-per-share offer from hedge fund Alden Global Capital, Tribune's biggest shareholder. Bainum at first wanted to buy another Tribune paper, The Baltimore Sun, but he now wants the whole company. Other Tribune papers include the New York Daily News and the Hartford Courant.

The Associated Press

5. Stock futures pull back after Friday highs

U.S. stock index futures edged lower early Monday following Friday's record highs for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Dow futures were down by 0.2 percent several hours before the opening bell, while those tied to the S&P 500 fell by 0.1 percent. Nasdaq futures were flat. Better-than-expected corporate earnings and strong economic data helped the main U.S. indexes last week, boosting the S&P by 1.4 percent and the Dow by 1.2 percent in their fourth consecutive week of gains. Coca-Cola, IBM, and United Airlines are among companies reporting earnings on Monday. Ten Dow components and 72 S&P 500 companies will report their quarterly results this week.

CNBC The Wall Street Journal

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.