Trump’s day in court
Criminal charges are usually kryptonite for a politician, but Donald Trump has so far succeeded in transforming Tuesday’s arraignment in connection with hush-money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels into a platform to grow his power base.
Round-the-clock media coverage has been a fund-raising boon. Jason Miller, a Trump aide, tweeted that the former president has raised a record $7 million for his re-election campaign (a claim that has not been independently confirmed) since he was indicted last week.
But will longtime allies return to his side? Some big-money former donors, such as Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot, the Citadel founder Ken Griffin and Steve Schwarzman of Blackstone have distanced themselves from Mr. Trump since 2020. There’s no sign yet they’ve changed their stances.
Investors are flocking to Trump-related businesses, too. Shares in Digital World Acquisition Corp., the special purpose acquisition company seeking to merge with Trump’s media business, have climbed more than 20 percent since he used his Truth Social platform to declare last month that his arrest was imminent. Investors seem unfazed by the many obstacles to the merger, which must be consummated in the next six months.
Mr. Trump’s standing in the Republican Party seems to be improving. A few months ago, the former president was considered a drag on the party after its lackluster performance in the midterms. But the indictment has forced Republicans to weigh in on Mr. Trump’s case — and most are publicly siding with him. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, his biggest competitor for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, and Jeb Bush, a rival he beat in 2016, have called the Manhattan investigation a political sideshow and “un-American.”
The latest polls show Mr. Trump expanding his lead for the Republican primaries. He is still well ahead of the field in New Hampshire, which votes early.
Here’s what else you should know about Tuesday’s historic arraignment:
TV cameras in the corridor of the Manhattan court will broadcast Mr. Trump’s surrender, but none will be permitted in the courtroom, Judge Juan Merchan ruled last night. Mr. Trump is scheduled to appear at 2:15 p.m. Eastern.
Todd Blanche, a former federal prosecutor who has also worked at the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, was added to Trump’s defense team.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
Twitter has yet to remove blue check marks for most verified users. Celebrities, prominent figures and most media organizations (except The New York Times) still have verification marks on the platform, even though its owner, Elon Musk, repeatedly said that they would go on April 1.
Virgin Orbit files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The satellite launch company backed by Richard Branson collapsed just over a year after going public, failing to raise new capital.
Britain’s privacy regulator fines TikTok. The U.K. Information Commissioner said the social media app breached data protection law around handling children’s data and levied a $16 million charge. The decision was announced shortly after Australia became the latest country to ban the app on government devices.
The F.T.C. orders Illumina to divest Grail, a cancer-test developer. Antitrust experts say the decision is a test of the agency’s efforts to stop established companies — Illumina is a big force in DNA testing equipment — from buying smaller rivals. The European Union’s competition watchdog voted to block the deal last autumn, and the activist investor Carl Icahn contends the acquisition was a mistake.
Jamie Dimon’s take on the latest banking crisis
Jamie Dimon’s closely watched annual letter to shareholders was released this morning and, unsurprisingly for a C.E.O. who corralled the $30 billion deal to save First Republic, he devoted plenty of ink to the regional banking crisis. The JPMorgan Chase boss warned that the turmoil “is not yet over,” and opined on what caused the crash. He also weighed in why more regulation isn’t necessarily the cure, and why it will have “repercussions” for years.
“Most of the risks were hiding in plain sight,” Mr. Dimon said of the troubles that brought down Silicon Valley Bank. Chief among them: SVB’s corporate clients “were controlled by a small number of venture capital companies and moved their deposits in lockstep.”
Mr. Dimon rejected suggestions that Trump-era rollbacks of smaller bank regulation were to blame for the crisis and cautioned against “politically motivated responses.” President Biden has called for increased scrutiny of banks with between $100 billion and $250 billion in assets, like SVB. Mr. Dimon said any new regulations, including revamped stress tests and leverage ratios, should take into account factors such as customer concentration, uninsured deposits and possible limitations on hold-to-maturity loans.
He called for more focus on what happens outside regulated banks, from trading to lending. “Among many questions that need definitive answers, a few big ones would be: Do you want the mortgage business, credit and market-making, along with other essential financial services, inside the banking system or outside of it?” he wrote. (Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last month that the department was focused on “new areas of risk,” a statement some took to mean nonbanks.)
Mr. Dimon also sounded a warning about the economy. “The market’s odds of a recession have increased,” he said, noting that “while this is nothing like 2008, it is not clear when this current crisis will end.”
Disney vs DeSantis, redux
The fight between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida ratcheted up a notch on Monday, with both sides exchanging blows in a dispute that shows little sign of being resolved quickly.
At Disney’s annual shareholder meeting, the C.E.O., Bob Iger, blasted Mr. DeSantis’s efforts to rip up the company’s terms of operation in the state as “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.” He made the comments shortly after the governor requested an investigation into how the company has maneuvered to retain control over the area of Florida containing its Disney World resort.
The feud is technically about a special tax district that gives Disney a high degree of autonomy in running its resort. Mr. DeSantis tried to get rid of the district and when that failed, he urged the state legislature to give him control of the board overseeing it. But before the Disney-controlled board gave up their seats to DeSantis appointees, they pushed through a deal with the company that essentially left their successors powerless.
Mr. Iger says it’s all about retaliation. Mr. DeSantis began working to restrict Disney’s autonomy after the company, the state’s biggest private employer and corporate taxpayer, publicly opposed a law critics have called anti-gay. “A company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do,” Mr. Iger said in his first in-depth public comments about the controversy since returning as C.E.O. late last year. “The governor got very angry over the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us.” Mr. Iger added that Disney was planning to invest $17 billion in the resort over the next decade, creating about 13,000 jobs and thousands more indirectly.
DeSantis accused the company of operating outside the law. “Disney is again fighting to keep its special corporate benefits and dodge Florida law. We are not going to let that happen,” a spokesman for Mr. DeSantis told The Times.
Credit Suisse mourns itself
More than 1,700 Credit Suisse shareholders gathered at an arena in Zurich this morning for what amounts to a wake for their 167-year-old bank, which agreed last month to sell itself to its archrival, UBS, at the behest of government regulators. Executives acknowledged anger and disappointment at the bank’s fate, which DealBook heard reflected in sharp, often emotional questions by several shareholders at the meeting.
“This will be our last ordinary general meeting,” Ulrich Körner, Credit Suisse’s C.E.O., told the crowd. “I am sure I don’t need to tell you that I am deeply saddened by this.”
In prepared remarks, both Mr. Körner and Axel Lehmann, the bank’s chairman, acknowledged that Credit Suisse was brought down by a history of scandals and losses that sapped confidence among investors and clients. “There were unhealthy developments, errant behaviors and wrong incentive systems,” Mr. Lehmann said.
But the UBS deal was the only solution in the end, they said. By March 19, Credit Suisse had two choices: a fire sale to its chief competitor or bankruptcy — and the latter, Lehmann said, “would have led to the worst scenario, namely a total loss for shareholders, unpredictable risks for clients, severe consequences for the economy and the global financial markets.”
That echoed recent comments by Martin Schlegel, the vice president of the Swiss central bank, that Credit Suisse would have failed if UBS hadn’t bought it.
What’s next? Credit Suisse in its current form will cease to exist once the deal closes, the men acknowledged. But Mr. Körner added that putting it together with UBS would create “an even stronger global financial services firm.”
Big money flows into women’s soccer
The National Women’s Soccer League announced on Tuesday a deal for a new team to be based in California’s Bay Area at a record price — a big win for women’s professional sports.
The investment firm Sixth Street is leading an ownership group that plans to spend $125 million on the Bay Area franchise. That will include an “expansion fee” of roughly $53 million; three years ago the going rate was $3 million.
The team will include some big names in business and sports. Several former U.S. national team players will be on the board, including Brandi Chastain, Leslie Osborne and Danielle Slaton, as well as Aly Wagner as co-chair. Other investors include Sheryl Sandberg, the former chief operating officer of Meta, who will also join the board.
Women’s soccer is becoming a huge attraction. The most recent Women’s World Cup claimed a global audience of more than 1.1 billion, and in the U.S., some 915,000 people watched the final of the N.W.S.L. last year.
But sponsorship and media deals lag behind. Apple recently signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal to broadcast most M.L.S. games. The N.W.S.L.’s deal with CBS, signed in 2020, was worth $4.5 million over three years.
“You’re at the beginning of an inflection point,” Alan Waxman, C.E.O. of Sixth Street, who will co-chair the new club, told DealBook.
THE SPEED READ
L’Oréal bought the luxury cosmetics group Aesop for $2.5 billion from Natura, the Brazilian owner of the Body Shop and Avon brands. (FT)
The Canadian mining group Teck Resources rejected a $23 billion takeover bid from Glencore. (WSJ)
A new N.B.A. collective bargaining agreement allow players to invest in teams. (The Athletic)
Warner Bros. is reportedly close to a deal with the writer J.K. Rowling to produce an online TV series based on the Harry Potter franchise. (Bloomberg)
Finland became the 31st member of NATO, a strategic blow to Russia. (NYT)
Regulators and lobbyists have been slow to respond to safety warnings about “monster trains.” (ProPublica)
Best of the rest
“Nigel Lawson, Economic Force Under Thatcher, Dies at 91.” (NYT)
Connecticut won the men’s N.C.A.A. basketball championship last night — making the billionaire investor Steve Pagliuca a brackets winner. (NYT, Bloomberg)
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