Family business: Lachlan, Rupert and James Murdoch © FT montage / Getty
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Walt Disney is closing in on the entertainment assets of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in an all-share deal that stands to reshape Hollywood and the rapidly digitising global media industry. The deal, valuing the Fox assets at about $60bn including debt, could be announced as early as Thursday, according to people briefed on the negotiations.
It would see Disney add 20th Century Fox, home to the Avatar and X-Men film franchises, to its own studio, as well as international pay-television brands from Sky in the UK to Star in India, regional US sports networks and Fox’s stake in the Hulu digital streaming service.
In the news
Brussels rules out early Brexit trade talks
EU countries have toughened their stance on Brexit negotiations, making clear that talks on a future EU-UK relationship will not begin until March and insisting that Britain will stay fully covered by EU rules during a transition period after it leaves the bloc in 2019. Senior national officials have changed draft guidelines on the next phase of talks so that they no longer suggest that “preliminary and preparatory” discussions on trade can begin early next year. (FT)
Facebook shakes up tax structure
Facebook has become one of the first large technology companies to shake up its tax structure and book less of its revenue in Ireland, as multinationals come under pressure to pay tax in the countries where they operate. The world’s largest social network said next year it will move towards a local selling structure. Advertisements sold will be booked as revenue in the 25 countries across the world rather than at its international headquarters in Ireland. (FT)
Trump aims for the moon
President Trump has officially set returning astronauts to the moon as the first goal of the US space programme. The formal decision, 45 years to the day after the last human landing, came at a White House signing event where Mr Trump was flanked by a number of former astronauts. However, his official directive to Nasa did not set a target date. (FT)
South Korea’s Olympics request
Seoul has asked the US to delay their joint annual spring military exercises until the 2018 Winter Olympics ends. It is a move aimed at lowering the chances of North Korea taking provocative actions. “The fear is not unfounded since Pyongyang destroyed a civilian airliner in 1987 in an attempt to derail the 1988 Seoul Olympics,” one Korea expert told the FT. (FT)
French bid for Westfield to create $72bn shopping mall group
One of the world’s biggest retail property companies is set to be created after Paris-based Unibail-Rodamco struck a deal to buy Westfield in an agreement that values the Australian mall operator at $24.7bn. (FT)
After bitcoin futures surged more than 20 per cent on their debut on Monday, two top US financial regulators weighed into the frenzy, warning investors of the risks. About 1,000 people own 40 per cent of the bitcoin market. Known as whales, they’re becoming a worry for investors. (FT, Bloomberg)
ExxonMobil bows to pressure on climate reporting
ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas group, will start publishing reports on the possible impact of climate policies on its business, bowing to investor demands for improved disclosure of the risks it faces. The decision is the biggest success so far for investors who have been pushing companies to do more to acknowledge the threat they face from climate change and from policies that curb greenhouse gas emissions. (FT)
Oil price soars on cracked pipeline
The UK North Sea’s main pipeline system is likely to be shut for weeks to undergo emergency repairs — just as the country is bracing for a prolonged cold snap. North Sea Brent, the international crude oil benchmark, jumped to a two-year high of $65.70 a barrel, highlighting how much of an immediate effect the shutdown will have. (FT)
The day ahead
The Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day meeting and announces its interest rates decision. The FOMC kept rates unchanged at its previous meeting, while pointing to solid US economic growth and a strengthening labour market. This time the Fed is all but certain to raise rates, the third this year and the fifth since the FOMC first began to increase policy interest rates at the end of 2015. Janet Yellen will give her final post-meeting press conference as Fed chair, where she is expected to say gradual rate rises are likely to be warranted in 2018. (FT)
Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s Week Ahead.
What we’re reading
FT Person of the Year: Susan Fowler
When Susan Fowler joined Uber in late 2015, the company looked like an unstoppable juggernaut. Then the software engineer lifted the lid on sexual harassment at Uber and inspired women to speak out. “The revelations helped spark a global #MeToo phenomenon that saw scores of women come forward with similar tales of abuse, harassment and discrimination,” writes the FT’s editor Lionel Barber. The FT lists the powerful figures accused of harassment this year. (FT)
The #MeToo movement comes to the White House
Republican voters may have overlooked the slew of sexual misconduct allegations against him in last year elections, but the ground has shifted, and there’s renewed focus on his accusations. Mr Trump, if an early morning Tweet on Tuesday is any indication, seems ready to go to war, but many of his advisers are wary of the politics of taking on his accusers given the current environment. (AP, WaPo)
Europe’s big moment
As the shock of the UK’s Brexit vote and the fragility of the banking system ease, Europe has an innovation opportunity, writes our columnist John Gapper. (FT)
Japan’s capsule hotels become more luxurious
The minimalist pod hotels offered cheap accommodation, but new operators are moving into the industry, offering fancy decor, free drinks and photocopiers in the lounge. Bath areas can include saunas, and prices of 5,000 yen ($44) a night are double the usual rate. (Nikkei Asian Review)
Video of the day
Understanding the #MeToo phenomenon
Rana Foroohar and Gillian Tett discuss the wave of sexual harassment allegations that have come to light in recent months. (FT)