Adidas cuts ties with Kanye
Adidas, the German sneaker giant, said on Tuesday that it was immediately ending its partnership with Kanye West, making it one of the last businesses to distance itself from the rapper and designer. West was shunned by many after he made antisemitic remarks and prominently wore a shirt bearing a slogan associated with white supremacists.
“Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech,” the company said in a statement. West’s recent comments and behavior, it said, “have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
A recap of what’s happened: West, who now goes by Ye, appeared at Paris Fashion Week earlier this month in a shirt that read “White Lives Matter.” He later tweeted that he would go “death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE,” among other antisemitic remarks. And he questioned the official account of George Floyd’s death.
Blowback came quickly. Instagram and Twitter suspended Ye’s accounts; Ari Emanuel of Endeavor, the parent company of the talent agency WME, called on entertainment companies to bar Ye; and Balenciaga, the fashion house that had Ye walk down its runway, has quietly distanced itself from him. Yesterday, CAA, the talent agency that represents Ye, said it had dropped him as a client, while the studio MRC said it was shelving a documentary on him.
Adidas was already under fire for sticking with Ye this long. The company has long weathered public barbs from the rapper, who accused it of things like mismanaging their collaboration, which is estimated to be worth billions. (Gap had similarly stuck with Ye, until he cut ties with the company last month.)
Adidas said earlier this month that it was putting its deal with Ye “under review” — prompting the Anti-Defamation League to shoot back, “What more do you need to review?” The A.D.L. stepped up its pressure on Adidas this week, after a group hung a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” over a Los Angeles freeway.
(The company has a complicated history with antisemitism: Its founder, Adi Dassler, was a member of the Nazi Party. People who make antisemitic statements online can be prosecuted in Germany, and companies with ties to the Nazi era are expected to act to prevent the return of such sentiment.)
There’s a strong business rationale for cutting ties with Ye now. Adidas’s stock price has dropped 23 percent over the past month as Ye’s erratic behavior drew criticism:
In its statement, Adidas said ending the partnership with Ye would have a “short-term” cost of up to 250 million euros ($246 million), given that it was coming just ahead of the holiday season. But it emphasized that it was “the sole owner of all design rights to existing products” under the partnership.
Ye’s own business future is increasingly in peril. He has become intertwined with the far right, associating with figures like Candace Owens and Tucker Carlson and agreeing to buy the right-leaning social network Parler.
More on Kanye West
Kanye West, the rapper and fashion designer who now goes by Ye, has been at the center of several controversies because of his divisive commentary and antisemitic screeds.
- Runway Scandal: Ye wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during a Paris fashion show. The use of the phrase, which the Anti-Defamation League has attributed to white supremacists, was widely condemned.
- Parler Deal: Parler, the social media service known for its right-wing audience, said that Ye would purchase its site, days after Instagram and Twitter restricted the rapper’s accounts.
- Running Out of Platforms: The act of grabbing public attention has been a centerpiece of Ye’s art for two decades. Our pop music critic wonders if audiences will still tune in if his only outlets are on the fringes.
At the same time, he is losing his connections with the fashion industry — a world he has long shown interest in — at a time when his most recent musical ventures have fallen short of his previous efforts. His last album, for instance, came out on a proprietary $200 speaker device, not on streaming services.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The Justice Department charges two people with spying for Huawei. Prosecutors said that the Chinese intelligence officials had unsuccessfully tried to obtain inside information about the U.S. investigation into the telecom giant. The charges were among several unveiled by federal law enforcement officials, who accused China of meddling in U.S. affairs.
The White House denies investigating Elon Musk over national security risks. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said a Bloomberg report that administration officials were weighing a national security review of Musk’s businesses was “not true.” The Bloomberg report helped weigh down Tesla’s stock price in recent days.
The Biden administration is reportedly preparing a debt-ceiling contingency plan. White House and Congressional aides have started discussing a raising of the U.S. debt ceiling during the lame-duck session after the midterm elections, according to Axios. It would be an effort to prevent Republicans from using debt-ceiling negotiations as a threat should they win control of the House.
European natural gas prices fall. Dutch TTF gas futures have slipped below €100 ($98.54) per megawatt hour, down some 20 percent from last week, to their lowest levels since Russia began restricting supply in June. Analysts cited warmer-than-usual weather and E.U. countries filling gas stores to near-full capacity.
U.S. business leaders take center stage at a prominent Saudi Arabian event. At the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase said that the U.S.-Saudi relationship should continue, despite momentary disagreements. Dimon, Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone and David Solomon of Goldman Sachs were among the speakers at the event, despite growing tensions between the Biden administration and Riyadh.
Chinese stocks continue to slide
Investors are growing nervous about another five years of President Xi Jinping ruling over China. For a second straight day, stocks closed lower in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and the renminbi sank to its lowest level against the dollar since December 2007, as markets weighed the economic implications of Xi’s move to tighten power ahead of his unprecedented third term.
The Hang Seng Index had already suffered its worst one-day drop since 2008 on Monday, as investors began to measure the makeup of Xi’s new leadership team. Moves such as the removal of Liu He, a Western-educated economic adviser who was an architect of the country’s growth strategy, was likely a jolt to some, Iris Pang, an economist at ING, wrote in a note to investors.
Investor concern rippled across the Pacific, with U.S.-listed Chinese stocks falling sharply yesterday, drastically underperforming the Nasdaq and S&P 500. The Wall Street rally was a further sign that the uncertainty surrounding Chinese stocks shows little risk of spilling into global markets.
Here are some of yesterday’s worst performers in New York:
Alibaba: -12.5 percent
Baidu: -12.6 percent
JD.com: -13 percent
Kanzhun: -22.7 percent
Pinduoduo: -24.6 percent
Meanwhile, the renminbi has fallen 15 percent against the dollar since April as Chinese economic growth falters. The currency fell further this morning after the People’s Bank of China set the onshore exchange rate against the dollar at a 14-year low.
And Xi must confront big issues. China’s economic growth is slowing, while its domestic real estate market, a major contributor to G.D.P., has collapsed. The slowing global economy could put pressure on its exports. Add it all up, and many investors see Chinese stocks as too volatile to touch right now.
“Stocks based in the world’s second-largest economy are ‘uninvestable’ again,” Mark Schilsky of the Bernstein sales trading desk said in a note Monday, according to CNBC.
It’s official: Britain has a new prime minister
Rishi Sunak, Britain’s former chancellor of the Exchequer, became the country’s latest leader — its third prime minister in four months — on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know about the man tasked with allaying investor fears about Britain while solving its deep economic problems.
Sunak’s ascension is a breakthrough on several levels. Sunak, the son of Indian immigrants and a practicing Hindu, is the first person of color to hold Britain’s highest political office. (He won the contest to lead the Conservative Party, and therefore secured the role of prime minister, yesterday — coincidentally also the Hindu holiday of Diwali.) At 42, he’s also the youngest person to hold the country’s highest office in over 200 years.
He is among the wealthiest people ever to become prime minister. After attending elite schools like Winchester College, Oxford and Stanford Business School, he worked at Goldman Sachs and two hedge funds. And he is married to Akshata Murty, the daughter of the Indian tech billionaire N.R. Murthy; their net worth is estimated at over $800 million.
And he confronts daunting economic challenges. Markets tanked after his predecessor, Liz Truss, proposed sweeping unfunded tax cuts, an outcome Sunak had predicted. (The British pound and government bonds have stabilized since Sunak began to appear likely to take over.)
British business leaders have urged Sunak to still the country’s political chaos, tame spiking inflation and manage soaring energy costs. At the same time, he will likely have to make difficult decisions on public spending cuts; how best to deal with the E.U., China and the U.S.; whether to impose windfall taxes on banks and energy companies; and more.
Goldman Sachs’s new P.R. pick
Goldman Sachs has hired Tony Fratto, a deputy White House press secretary to George W. Bush, as global head of corporate communications, as the Wall Street bank tries to change the narrative following a torrent of tough stories and a lagging share price.
Fratto, who founded the lobbying group Hamilton Place Strategies (now known as Penta), joins as a partner and will report to John Rogers, the bank’s chief of staff. Job One for Fratto: “to protect and enhance Goldman Sachs’s reputation,” according to a memo obtained by DealBook.
Goldman Sachs had been known for its protective culture. But under the tenure of David Solomon, its C.E.O. since 2018, the bank has suffered leaks on everything from his private jet use and DJing, to his push to build his personal brand. Meanwhile, the communications team has turned over following the exit of Jake Siewert, who led Goldman Sachs’s post-financial-crisis makeover until last year.
Fratto will need to win over investors and the media. Goldman shares are down 20 percent over the past year as investors worry that its bet on consumer banking and a slowdown in deal-making will weigh on the bottom line.
The company resumed its layoff program last month after a pause during the pandemic, and last week it announced a restructuring of its operations. Amid concerns that further cuts could be on the way, Jim Esposito, global co-head of Goldman’s investment banking division, told a town hall discussion yesterday that there would be no more this year.
THE SPEED READ
The low-cost Canadian airline Flair is reportedly in talks to go public by merging with a SPAC run by Dennis Muilenburg, the former Boeing C.E.O. (Bloomberg)
Bilt Rewards, a start-up that converts rent payments into loyalty points, has a unicorn-sized valuation of $1.5 billion. (Bloomberg)
Warner Bros. Discovery expects to incur a $4.3 billion charge tied to the cost-cutting moves it imposed following its mega-merger. (WSJ)
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