China: Little headway in new trade talks
U.S. and Chinese negotiators held face-to-face trade talks this week for the first time since an agreement broke down in May, said Chao Deng in The Wall Street Journal. Though U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin traveled to Shanghai, little progress seems to have been made in two days of talks. In a series of tweets, President Trump said China had failed to honor a pledge to buy more agricultural products. China, meanwhile, “thinks it can extract better terms by not hurrying into concessions.”
Tech: SoftBank raises another megafund
SoftBank said last week it will raise $108 billion from investors to launch a second Vision Fund, said Kana Inagaki and Arash Massoudi in the Financial Times. “A splurge of investments in Uber, WeWork, and other technology companies” through SoftBank’s first, $97 billion Vision Fund has made the Japanese telecom conglomerate the world’s biggest tech investment powerhouse—thanks, in part, to heavy backing by the sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Microsoft, Foxconn, and Apple have invested in the new fund, which aims to “facilitate the ‘continued acceleration of the AI revolution.’”
Telecom: U.S. approves wireless deal
The Justice Department approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint last week in “a deal that would reshape the nation’s wireless industry,” said Edmund Lee and Katie Benner in The New York Times. In the transaction, T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, will effectively buy competitor Sprint in a $26.5 billion deal. The companies also agreed to sell off parts of their businesses to the Dish Network. One last but important hurdle remains for the merger: Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have sued to block the transaction.
Tesla: Co-founder leaves as losses rise
Tesla took two hits last week, announcing a larger-than-expected quarterly loss coupled with the departure of one of its co-founders, said Ashlee Vance in Bloomberg.com. J.B. Straubel, a member of Tesla’s founding team in 2004, said he will leave his longtime role as chief technology officer to become an adviser. An inventor responsible for many parts of Tesla’s innovative vehicles, Straubel was also “the quiet, grounded complement” to CEO Elon Musk’s “drama-filled, visionary persona.” Additionally, despite a record number of vehicle deliveries in the second quarter, Tesla reported weaker earnings as the average sale price dropped.