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CVS Health, America’s biggest drugstore chain, is set to acquire the healthcare insurer Aetna for about $68bn, in a deal that will create a new giant in the prescription drugs industry and is likely to spark further consolidation in the sector. Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the US by sales, will be offered around $207 per share in cash and stock, according to people familiar with the matter. An announcement could come as soon as Sunday evening, they added. (FT)
In the news
The Trump-Russia story’s latest twists
Donald Trump lashed out at the Department of Justice on Saturday night, alleging it had unfairly targeting his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Meanwhile, a tweet from Mr Trump — that the White House claimed was written by his lawyer — suggested he knew Mr Flynn lied to FBI agents when he fired him, which could bolster any potential obstruction of justice case against the president. And emails suggest that Mr Flynn was not, contrary to the Trump administration’s claims, acting alone in his contacts with Russia’s US ambassador. Some observers wonder whether Mr Flynn was asked to wear a wire as part of his co-operation with the special counsel probe into Russian efforts to sway the election to Mr Trump, and whether Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner might be the next senior aide to end up in legal jeopardy. (FT, NYT, Guardian, Bloomberg)
Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has restarted talks with Walt Disney over the sale of its entertainment and international assets — including its 39 per cent stake in the pan-European broadcaster Sky — in a potential deal that could reshape the global media map. The discussions between the two sides ended last month but have begun again, according to multiple people with knowledge of the talks. (FT)
Republicans battle public scepticism over tax cuts
Republicans hope to pass what would be the first major change to the tax system in decades before Christmas, handing Donald Trump his first big legislative win. But they must then prepare to meet a sceptical public in the November midterm elections amid concerns about losing their majorities in the House and Senate and independent analyses showing the tax cuts heavily favour the wealthy and big business. (FT)
China defends state internet control
Beijing defended its vision of “internet sovereignty” on Sunday as it kicked off a state-run internet conference that has drawn in some of the biggest global names in technology — despite a year defined by tightened censorship in the country. (FT)
US banks add $170bn to trading firepower
Big Wall Street banks have begun to rebuild their trading arsenals under the lighter-touch regime of Donald Trump, who has promised to rip up Obama-era rules designed to rein in risk-taking. The likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley spent the years since the crisis winnowing their inventories of stocks and bonds held for trading, as new constraints on capital, and new rules such as the Volcker ban on proprietary trades, bit hard. (FT)
Ireland urges UK to steer clear of hard border
Leo Varadkar has called on the British government to give firm assurance on Monday that there will not be a hard border with Northern Ireland after the UK leaves the single market. The comments by the Irish prime minister came on the eve of critical talks in Brussels between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, aimed at unlocking the start of trade talks between the EU and UK. (FT)
Last-minute tax breaks for banks, developers and oil industry
In the Republicans’ mad dash to pass a massive overhaul of the US tax system, the nearly 500-page bill ended up with last-minute changes handwritten in the margins. Even after the Senate vote, experts weren’t sure exactly what made it in, but it is clear that many changes “expanded tax benefits for the wealthiest taxpayers, while other attempts to close loopholes fell by the wayside. The bill would add $1tn to deficits over the coming decade.” (NYT)
Women pioneered the debate over Big Tech’s power
The debate over the role of the companies that rule the internet has been going on for nearly a decade — from the beginning, it was led by women and marginalised groups in the US and abroad. But you wouldn’t know it based on who is getting the most airtime today. (BuzzFeed)
Japan may cut corporate rate to 20%
The US is not the only major economy set to slash tax rates for businesses — Japan is also considering corporate tax breaks, contingent on wage hikes and productivity-enhancing investment. (NAR)
How good is your grasp of the news? Try our weekly FirstFT quiz. What is the name of Ireland’s largest opposition party?
The day ahead
British prime minister Theresa May will attempt to close the first phase of Brexit talks at meetings with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
The finance ministers of the 18 EU eurozone members meet in Brussels, while a separate Ecofin council meeting of all EU finance ministers takes place on Tuesday. Main topics include a review of Greek reforms under the latest bailout agreement and preparations for the December 14-15 European summit, which will set the direction for deeper eurozone integration.
A Belgian federal judge is to decide whether deposed former first minister of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, should be extradited to Spain, after the decision was postponed on November 17. Mr Puigdemont travelled to Belgium following the declaration of independence in Catalonia, which was made in the light of the referendum on October 1.
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
What we’re reading
Brexit: the battle over a reverse accession
Britain imagines it is an equal partner in the exit talks. But negotiations over its 1973 entry illustrate who has the upper hand. Here’s Wolfgang Münchau on how even £50bn won’t buy the UK much in the negotiations. (FT)
‘There is no such thing as Rohingya’
According to the government of Myanmar, which has been accused of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the long-persecuted Rohingya, the Muslim minority does not exist. “It is fake news,” said one security official, echoing Donald Trump’s favourite phrase in what critics see as a dangerous pattern of authoritarian regimes copying the US leader’s rhetoric, as seen in Libya. (NYT)
FT Books of the Year
From the end of globalisation to the literature of birds, the FT’s critics reveal their top picks of the year. (FT)
The selling of South Africa
How did one family — the Guptas — manage to gain such extraordinary influence over a country and its politics? (FT)
‘They will have to answer to us’
In El Salvador, one of the deadliest places in the world, the country’s gangs are trying to negotiate their way out of a bloody stalemate with the police. (NYT)
Bitcoin, ignorance and you
Jason Zweig on what the logic-defying surge in the price of bitcoin reveals about the importance of knowing what you do not know, especially when it comes to investing. (WSJ)
Video of the day
The week ahead
The FT’s Josh de la Mare previews some of the big stories in the week ahead, including key talks on Brexit between the UK prime minister and EU chiefs, the start of election campaigning in Catalonia, and the latest US jobs figures and the threat of government shutdown. (FT)