Tag Archives: Personalities / People

Trump Fed nominee Shelton hits bipartisan skepticism in Senate hearing

[ad_1]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve board nominee Judy Shelton faced deep skepticism from Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday, as lawmakers challenged her independence from President Donald Trump and characterized her thinking as too far outside the mainstream to trust with the nation’s economy.

After the hearing, three Republican senators indicated she had not fully alleviated their concerns – enough to sink her nomination in a committee divided between 13 of Trump’s fellow Republicans and 12 Democrats, who are unlikely to vote in her favor.

Over the course of the roughly two-hour hearing she found herself having to back away from prior views, explain that she would not pursue a common North American currency with Canada and Mexico if confirmed as a Fed governor, and even apologize for comparing a currency forger’s challenge of the federal government’s dominance over money to civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks’ challenge of segregation laws.

“I apologize for the comparison. I truly do,” Shelton said of an incident raised by Alabama Democratic Senator Doug Jones in which a North Carolina man issued millions of dollars of his own precious-metal backed currency. “I believe he was testing the idea” that money needed to be backed by gold and silver, Shelton explained.

“Is that something you want to test?” Jones shot back, summing up committee concerns about past Shelton writings seeming to support a return to something like a gold or other asset-backed standard to keep the value of the dollar stable.

“No, senator,” said Shelton, a member of the Trump transition team and a long-time conservative author and commentator on financial issues.

It was one of a series of pointed exchanges between senators and Shelton, an economist with a long track record criticizing the Fed and questioning, at least in theory, whether central banks can even do the job assigned to them.

NOT IN THE MAINSTREAM

Four previous Trump appointees to the Fed failed to clear the Senate, a sign of the weight Congress has put on keeping the country’s monetary policy as free as possible of political interference, given Trump’s open verbal attacks on the Fed and demand for lower interest rates.

Asked about Trump’s war-by-tweet against the Fed, Shelton responded “I don’t censor what someone says.”

But during the hearing Pennsylvania Republican Senator Patrick Toomey called her views about using the Fed to manage the value of the dollar against other currencies “a very very dangerous path to go down.” Trump has often blamed the Fed for a rising dollar, which he argues has hurt exports. Shelton has often written about the need for a “sound” dollar.

A spokesman for Toomey said afterwards that the senator was undecided and that Shelton’s answers “didn’t alleviate” his concerns.

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby also “has not decided at this point, I know he still has some concerns,” the senator’s communications director, Blair Taylor, told Reuters.

Shelton, who holds a doctorate in business administration and has been sharply critical of the Federal Reserve in her writings and commentary, pledged broadly that she would be an independent thinker who would work well with existing Fed officials.

“I pledge to be independent in my decision-making, and frankly no one tells me what to do,” Shelton said, deflecting questions about her past writings that, for example, characterized the Fed’s setting of a short-term interest rate as similar to Soviet central planning.

“I don’t claim to be in the mainstream of economists….I would bring my own perspective. But I think the intellectual diversity strengthens the discussion.”

Senate Democrats said flatly that they do not trust her.

“Shelton has flip-flopped on too many issues to be confirmed,” said Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. “She is far outside the mainstream. She is outside the ideological spectrum.”

TWO NOMINEES

A second nominee, Christopher Waller, a career economist who is currently the research director of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, faced few questions about his views.

Both were nominated by Trump to fill vacant seats on the Fed’s seven-member Washington-based Board of Governors.

Both Waller and Shelton released opening statements on Wednesday ahead of their hearings that offered few clues about their views on monetary policy beyond promising to promote policies that support financial stability and help the Fed meet its goals of full employment and price stability.

The two emphasized the Fed’s accountability to Congress, which oversees the central bank.

Both said they agreed with many of the opinions held by current Fed officials, including a reluctance to use negative interest rates as some other central banks have done, and a willingness to renew Fed bond purchases and expand the Fed’s balance sheet to fight a future downturn.For Waller, that is an extension of his 11 years working at the Fed and helping shape current policy as a key adviser to St. Louis Fed President James Bullard.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve building is pictured in Washington, DC, U.S., August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

For Shelton, it was a seeming reversal from her earlier views that “quantitative easing” amounted to an inappropriate Fed intervention in markets that was inflating stock prices but doing little for the economy.

After cutting rates to zero, quantitative easing “is your only alternative,” Shelton said in response to a sharp and insistent series of questions from Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy on how she would respond to a downturn. Following the hearing, he remained undecided on whether to support Shelton’s nomination, according to an aide.

“It seems like you are taking a 180 degree position on all of this just to be appointed,” said Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “Who are we getting?”

Additional reporting by Ann Saphir in San Francisco; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Dan Grebler and Andrea Ricci

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

[ad_2]

Source link

New Boeing CEO Calhoun is hardened company disaster supervisor

[ad_1]

(Reuters) – Beleaguered Boeing Co (BA.N) is placing its future within the fingers of a turnaround veteran who has led a number of firms in disaster, minimize his enamel at engine maker Common Electrical Co (GE.N) and has spent a decade on the board of the world’s largest planemaker.

Newly appointed Chief Government David Calhoun, 62, was made Boeing’s chairman two months in the past within the midst of the disaster that has rocked the corporate since airliner disasters in Indonesia and Ethiopia led to the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX.

This isn’t his first style of company upheaval.

Calhoun grew to become chairman of the Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) board shortly after federal brokers raided its headquarters in 2017, headed a Common Electrical unit that included jet engines after the Sept. 11, 2001 assaults, and turned spherical media analysis firm Nielsen to go public. He has additionally been a longtime government at Blackstone non-public fairness group.

“Having seen him run GE’s aviation enterprise after 9/11, I do know he can execute below stress,” former GE chief government Jeff Immelt instructed Reuters by electronic mail when requested about Calhoun, including that Calhoun would restore buyer belief in Boeing.

As Calhoun tackles the MAX disaster, he additionally faces questions from European regulators over a deal to purchase the industrial arm of Brazil’s Embraer in a serious strategic transfer.

Calhoun, who has co-written a ebook on enterprise, “How Firms Win,” says being candid is a part of being a pacesetter, an strategy which many critics say was absent from Boeing’s initially guarded strategy to considerations in regards to the 737 MAX.

“The second you get into the workplace til the second you allow, each interplay is judged,” he stated in a video printed in 2014 by the Jack Welch Administration Institute.

“You attempt to cover something from everyone and I feel your physique language turns into completely obvious.”

But in his quick time as Boeing chairman, Calhoun has confirmed his potential to power adjustments behind the scenes, as seen by his position within the departure of Kevin McAllister as chief government of Boeing’s planemaking arm in October. The removing was silent and swift, foreshadowing Dennis Muilenburg’s ouster this week.

Some insiders noticed McAllister – one other GE veteran – as a scapegoat for the MAX disaster. Others say he paid the value for distractions together with extensively publicized cracks within the firm’s older 737NG jets, which caught the board off guard. The 737 MAX was not impacted by the cracking problem.

The reckoning got here at a casual board dinner in Texas led by Calhoun in late October. As administrators wound up a two-day summit a day later, Calhoun and Muilenburg took McAllister apart and instructed him he was out, two individuals briefed on the assembly stated.

FILE PHOTO: Nielsen CEO David Calhoun (C) is congratulated after his firm’s IPO opened, on the ground of the New York Inventory Alternate January 26, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

In an indication that the board was already claiming a brand new voice below just lately appointed chairman Calhoun, having break up the CEO and chairman roles, the decisive dinner dialog that led to the shake-up came about with out Muilenburg, the individuals stated.

Boeing declined touch upon confidential board discussions.

McAllister and Muilenburg couldn’t be reached.

PRESSURE FOR CHANGE

Now, Calhoun should restore frayed relations with regulators, proceed to handle a money squeeze from the disaster and produce to market the brand new 777X jet at a time of powerful regulatory scrutiny.

His expertise on the Boeing board will permit Calhoun to “take the reins in brief order with out the necessity for an extended interval of familiarization,” stated Timm Schulze-Melander, industrials specialist at European analysis home Redburn.

As a long-time board member who discovered the trade at GE, Calhoun shares the qualities of each an insider and outsider – worrying some who query whether or not he’s the recent blood Boeing must overhaul what typically appears a smug company tradition.

“Boeing wants a revamp of its company governance. The board must be fired,” stated Paul Njoroge, a Toronto-based funding skilled who misplaced his household within the Ethiopia crash.

“I don’t suppose (Calhoun) goes to vary the tradition of Boeing,” he added.

A former Nielsen government referred to as Calhoun a “hard-nosed” chief who doesn’t heat to dissent, however who can encourage.

“(Boeing) may want somebody as powerful as Dave. I don’t suppose he can be a great supervisor over a protracted time frame. As a disaster supervisor, he may have the ability to get it carried out,” the individual stated.

Regardless that Calhoun sat on Boeing’s board all through the event of the MAX, some argue he has the tenacity to drive by reform.

FILE PHOTO: Nielsen CEO David Calhoun (2nd L) is congratulated after his firm’s IPO opened on the ground of the New York Inventory Alternate, January 26, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

“It’s onerous to usher in someone who doesn’t know aviation or have credibility with airways,” stated Lundquist Group managing director Jerrold Lundquist, a advisor who first met Calhoun within the 1990s and who believes he’s what stricken Boeing wants.

“It’s powerful to return in chilly. To a point that could be a trade-off they need to make,” Lundquist stated.

Reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Kenneth Li in New York. Further reporting by Chibuike Oguh and Ankit Ajmera; Writing by Peter Henderson and Tim Hepher; Enhancing by Lisa Shumaker and Grant McCool

Our Requirements:The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink

Amazon founder Bezos’ divorce final with $38 billion settlement: report

[ad_1]

FILE PHOTO: 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 – Amazon CEO Jeff and wife MacKenzie Bezos. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, was finalized by a Seattle-area judge on Friday, paving the way for her to receive $38.3 billion worth of Amazon stock, Bloomberg reported.

In April, Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, said in a filing that 4% of its outstanding stock or 19.7 million shares would be registered in MacKenzie Bezos’ name after court approval of the divorce.

The couple announced their plan to divorce in a joint Twitter statement in January, causing some to worry that Jeff Bezos could wind up with reduced Amazon voting power or that he or MacKenzie would liquidate large position.

He retains a 12% stake worth $114.8 billion and remains the world’s richest person, Bloomberg said. MacKenzie Bezos has said she would give him voting control of her shares.

MacKenzie in May pledged to give half her fortune to charity to join the “Giving Pledge,” a campaign announced by billionaire Warren Buffett and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates in 2010.

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

[ad_2]

Source link

From Paris to Omaha: How Occidental CEO out-maneuvered Chevron in Anadarko bid

[ad_1]

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Occidental Petroleum chief executive Vicki Hollub was caught off guard when U.S. oil giant Chevron swooped in last month with a $33 billion offer to buy Anadarko Petroleum, the oil and gas exploration and production firm she had been wooing for nearly two years.

FILE PHOTO: Vicki Hollub, President and CEO of Occidental Petroleum, speaks at the 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

Chevron, nearly five times larger than Occidental, appeared to have out-maneuvered its smaller rival. But on Sunday Hollub showed the fight was not over. After a whirlwind few days to raise more cash, Hollub offered a sweetened deal. By Thursday, Chevron had bowed out.

In edging out Chevron, Hollub leaned on global relationships and knowledge forged from 35 years in the oil industry, according to about a dozen people familiar with the talks leading up to the company’s latest offer.

Occidental had struggled to win over Anadarko because its first public $38 billion offer of 50 percent cash and 50 percent stock, as well as previous offers made privately, required the approval of Occidental shareholders, and Anadarko was not convinced they would go for the deal, two sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

Hollub knew she needed to substantially increase the cash offer – thereby making shareholder approval unnecessary – and moved swiftly to secure it, the sources said.

She was in Paris on April 26, just two weeks after Chevron’s announcement, and struck an $8.8 billion deal with French major Total SA to sell Anadarko assets her company didn’t yet own.

Two days later she was in Omaha, Nebraska, securing $10 billion in financing from billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc, who typically does not partner with companies pursuing unsolicited takeovers.

Occidental declined to make Hollub available for an interview for this story. The company’s shares are down 9 percent since making their offer public in late April.

The combined company would establish Occidental as the largest operator in the Permian basin in west Texas and New Mexico, the heart of the U.S. shale revolution, where a boom in production has propelled the United States into becoming the world’s largest oil producer.

It would make Occidental the third-largest U.S. oil company with a market value of about $80 billion, dwarfed only by global giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

“She’s doing the boldest M&A thing that’s happened since the ‘80s,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, energy consultant and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “You’re having an atypical M&A battle in a very competitive space where (usually) the bigger you are, the more you’re going to win.”

Hollub’s challenge has stunned an industry where the last attempt to break up an agreed-upon deal between two U.S. oil companies was in 1984 when Texaco challenged Pennzoil’s acquisition of Getty Oil.

It has also angered some Occidental investors who say Hollub is overstretching the company’s balance sheet in an ill-advised quest for size in a volatile industry.

“Our concern is the willingness of the management team at Occidental to cut very favorable deals against the interests of shareholders on a longer-term basis,” said John Linehan, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price.

T. Rowe, the sixth-largest holder of Occidental shares, announced it would vote against the board of directors on the annual shareholder meeting Friday. But such a move may be mostly symbolic.

An Occidental spokesman declined to comment on the concerns but pointed to Hollub’s defense of her strategy that it was better to raise cash than issue new debt.

Hollub’s background in the technical aspects of oil production contrasts with her predecessor, a banker and known dealmaker. She has been described as down to earth by former and current employees, differing from flamboyant energy CEOs.

LONGTIME DISCUSSIONS

Buying Anadarko was seen as the best way for Occidental to gain more acreage in the Permian shale basin, where it markets nearly a quarter of all barrels produced in the region.

When Chevron announced a deal on April 12 to buy Anadarko, Hollub gathered the merger team. They were shocked that Anadarko had accepted a bid that was $11 per share below what Occidental had privately offered, three of the people familiar with the discussions said.

“She thought, we’re in it to win it. Let’s make our offer public so their shareholders know what they passed up,” one of the sources said.

In a letter to Anadarko’s board of directors on April 24, Occidental said they “were surprised and disappointed” that Anadarko had not agreed to their previous two offers in April.

Anadarko executives, however, remained concerned that Occidental shareholders could scuttle the deal, leaving them without a buyer, two sources familiar with the situation said. The board of directors wanted to stick with Chevron.

Just two days after sending the letter, Hollub was in Paris meeting with Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne to discuss Anadarko’s African assets, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The two already had a relationship stemming from the Dolphin Gas Project, a Middle East cross-border gas initiative where both companies have an equal share. Total had made it known to her that they coveted Anadarko’s properties, including a liquefied natural gas project in Mozambique.

“Vicki wanted to show that she could quickly put the cash on the table. In less than 10 days she had the cash ready,” a Paris-based source said.

Omaha, Nebraska was next. Buffett is known for moving quickly when a deal piques his interest, but he tends to avoid getting involved in hostile takeover bids.

The meeting was set up by BofA CEO Brian Moynihan, whose bank was helping to provide financing for the Anadarko deal. Hollub later said Buffett was “warm and wonderful” in their meeting, a source familiar with the discussions said.

Buffett, cash flush and on the hunt for new deals, agreed to provide $10 billion in financing in return for an 8 percent premium, a concern for dividend-focused shareholders who believe the terms are too pricey.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The two deals enabled Hollub to submit a revised offer on Sunday, increasing the cash component from 50 percent to 78 percent.

On Thursday, Chevron said it would collect its $1 billion termination fee and walk away from the negotiations.

(For a graphic on ‘Oxy-Anadarko would be third largest U.S. oil company’ click tmsnrt.rs/2VSZ3hY)

Reporting By Devika Krishna Kumar and Jessica Resnick Ault; additional reporting by David Gaffen, Bate Felix, David J. French, Jennifer Hiller, Jennifer Ablan; Writing by David Gaffen; Editing by Ross Colvin

[ad_2]

Source link

Saudis gained access to Amazon CEO Bezos’ phone: Bezos’ security chief

[ad_1]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The security chief for Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said on Saturday that the Saudi government had access to Bezos’ phone and gained private information from it.

Gavin De Becker, a longtime security consultant, said he had concluded his investigation into the publication in January of leaked text messages between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, a former television anchor who the National Enquirer tabloid newspaper said Bezos was dating.

Last month, Bezos accused the newspaper’s owner of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing “intimate photos” he allegedly sent to Sanchez unless he said in public that the tabloid’s reporting on him was not politically motivated.

In an article for The Daily Beast website, De Becker said the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., had privately demanded that De Becker deny finding any evidence of “electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their newsgathering process.”

“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” De Becker wrote. “As of today, it is unclear to what degree, if any, AMI was aware of the details.”

A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment. In February, the kingdom’s minister of state for foreign affairs said Saudi Arabia had “absolutely nothing to do” with the National Enquirer’s reporting on the affair.

A representative for AMI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. AMI has previously said that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the Bezos story.

De Becker said he has turned over the findings of his investigation to U.S. federal officials, without elaborating.

Reporting by Christopher Bing; Editing by Mary Milliken and Rosalba O’Brien

[ad_2]

Source link