Business review from the Economist
Kraft Heinz bids and rescinds for Unilever
As transient as it was titanic, a proposed $143 billion takeover bid by Kraft Heinz for Unilever was withdrawn just a few days after it was leaked to the press. The deal would have been one of the biggest mergers on record, creating a behemoth in consumer products. Kraft's major shareholders are Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett's investment company, and 3G Capital, a Brazilian private-equity firm with a reputation for stringent cost-cutting at its takeover targets. Unilever swiftly rejected its advances, but in a rapid response it launched a wide-ranging review of its business.
Ending months of uncertainty about a takeover deal that was signed last summer, Verizon said it would pay $350 million less for Yahoo following two big cyberattacks on the internet company's users that took place before the deal was agreed, but which came to light only late last year. The hacking of as many as 1 billion Yahoo accounts was the largest breach of private data yet, prompting a rethink at Verizon about its offer. It will now pay $4.5 billion for Yahoo.
Apple lodged an appeal at the European Court of Justice against the European Commission's ruling that the company owes Ireland $14 billion in back taxes because of illegal state aid. Apple said, among other things, that the commission had overstepped its mark, did not understand Irish law, and denied it had received preferential tax treatment from the Irish government. Its main contention is that the center of its profit-driving activities is the United States and that is where it should be taxed. A hearing will be held in the autumn.
Amazon.com announced that it would increase its British workforce by a quarter, adding 5,000 jobs to its current head count. Apple, Facebook and Google have made similar commitments to increase their presence in Britain recently. U.S. tech companies seem to be less worried than financial firms about the prospect of Britain leaving the E.U.
Jio, a mobile network in India that has shaken the country's telecom industry by offering a free service, announced that it would start charging a small fee for unlimited data. Calls will still cost nothing.
Hanjin Shipping was declared officially bankrupt and its remaining assets ordered to be liquidated. The South Korean container line filed for bankruptcy protection last August, which led to its ships being denied entry to ports in case they could not pay the port fees. Hanjin was one of the world's biggest shipping companies a decade ago.
BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Glencore were the latest mining companies to report healthy profits, helped by cost-cutting and a rebound in commodity prices. Anglo American reported an annual profit of $1.6 billion; in 2015 it had made a loss of $5.6 billion. Core earnings for the year at Glencore rose 18 percent to $10.3 billion. BHP Billiton's profit for the last half of 2016 was $3.2 billion; in the same period a year earlier it had recorded a $5.7 billion loss.
Special prosecutors in South Korea questioned the de facto head of Samsung Electronics. Lee Jae-yong, who is in custody, is being investigated for allegedly paying bribes to smooth the merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
Global politics from the Economist
Attack on Pakistan shrine kills 88
A series of terrorist attacks struck Pakistan, including one on a Sufi shrine that killed 88 people. The army blamed infiltrators from Afghanistan, sealed the border and shelled what it said were terrorist bases on the Afghan side.
In Afghanistan, police surrounded the house of Abdul Rashid Dostum, the vice president, in an attempt to arrest nine bodyguards, who have been accused of beating and raping a political rival.
A former policeman from the Philippine city of Davao claimed he had run a vigilante group that had murdered criminals at the behest of the mayor at the time, Rodrigo Duterte, who became president in June.
China said it would suspend imports of coal from North Korea, all but eliminating one of the isolated communist state's main sources of revenue. Malaysia, meanwhile, said it was looking for several North Korean officials in connection with the killing of the half-brother of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator.
Mike Pence went to Europe to assure U.S. allies that it is still committed to NATO, whatever his boss may have said. But the vice president also called on Europeans to boost military spending to honor their commitment to the military alliance.
South Africa's High Court blocked a move by the country's president, Jacob Zuma, to withdraw from membership of the International Criminal Court, saying that he may not do so without consulting parliament.