Andrew here. Yesterday’s guilty verdict against George Floyd’s murderer, a former Minneapolis police officer, was a symbol of something profound: a demonstrable shift in the way this country, increasingly supported by business, has strived for civil rights.
As we ponder the meaning of this decision, it is worth recalling a moment in 1965, in the middle of that era’s civil rights movement.
A Wall Street bond firm, C.F. Securities, told Alabama that it would “no longer buy or sell bonds issued by the state or any of its political subdivisions.” Gov. George C. Wallace, who objected to desegregation, had said the state shouldn’t pay for the National Guard to protect Martin Luther King Jr. and protesters in the Selma-to-Montgomery march.
The investment firm’s executive vice president, Donald E. Barnes, wrote to the governor that his failure “to protect the citizens of Alabama in their exercise of constitutional rights” amounted to “discouragements to Alabama’s economic future.” He insisted that the move was based on economic risk, but the letter made clear it was about more than that.
paid time off on Juneteenth; the N.B.A. emblazoned the words “Black Lives Matter” on courts; Netflix steered its cash into local banks that serve Black communities; Wall Street banks announced programs worth billions to support Black communities; and just last week, in perhaps the greatest demonstration of the new responsibility business is feeling, 700 companies and executives signed a letter opposing laws that make it harder for people to vote.
“The murder of George Floyd last Memorial Day felt like a turning point for our country. The solidarity and stand against racism since then have been unlike anything I’ve experienced,” Brian Cornell, the C.E.O. of Target, wrote in a note to employees of the Minneapolis-based retailer yesterday. “Like outraged people everywhere, I had an overwhelming hope that today’s verdict would provide real accountability. Anything short of that would have shaken my faith that our country had truly turned a corner.”
You know what? Justice is good for business.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The European Super League has collapsed. Plans to create a closed competition of top soccer clubs fell apart yesterday when six English teams withdrew, bowing to outrage from fans and threats by lawmakers. Shortly after, an official at the Super League said the project had been suspended, ending an effort to upend soccer’s multibillion-dollar economics.
outweigh a small risk of blood clots, but wants a warning added. U.S. regulators will decide whether to end a pause on the vaccine in the coming days.
Goldman Sachs releases worker diversity data. The Wall Street bank disclosed for the first time how many of its senior U.S. executives are Black: 49 out of more than 1,500. Banks agreed last year to publish more information about their work forces; Morgan Stanley has an even smaller share of Black executives than Goldman.
Apple’s new products raise competition concerns. The tech giant unveiled new iPads and iMacs, and a revamped podcast app. But its new AirTags, which attach to items to help find them, was criticized by the C.E.O. of Tile, which makes a similar product. Apple also said it would roll out new iOS privacy features — criticized by Facebook and other app makers — next week.
Understanding the ‘antimonopolist’ Lina Khan
Lina Khan’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission is one of the clearest signs of progressive influence in the Biden administration. A Columbia University scholar who worked on a major congressional report about Big Tech and antitrust last year, Ms. Khan is a star in the constellation of competition law experts known as “antimonopolists.” Her confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce Committee is today.
power of internet giants, which could win her some conservative support. Having a “strong” perspective probably isn’t an obstacle to confirmation, Mr. Hoffman said.
“Antimonopoly is more than antitrust,” Ms. Khan wrote in 2018. It shifts away from a “consumer” take on mergers managed by antitrust agencies to a broader approach using “policy levers” across the government and keeps workers, voters, the environment and more in mind.
Big Tech will be a likely focus at the hearing. But this would be a “disservice” to Ms. Khan, according to Mr. Hoffman. “At the F.T.C., a lot of the agenda is reactive,” he said. Companies file merger paperwork and regulators respond, whatever the industry. Ms. Khan has a broad perspective on competition law, Mr. Hoffman said, and today would be “a fair time” to ask what “objective standards” she’d apply.
“You have to have some morals.”
— Ari Emanuel, the outspoken C.E.O. of the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor, speaking in a New Yorker profile about returning an investment from Saudi Arabia after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. Separately, Endeavor disclosed yesterday that it hopes to be valued at more than $10 billion in an I.P.O.
These ‘Roaring Twenties’ have railroad battles, too
Canadian National Railway yesterday offered to buy Kansas City Southern for $33.7 billion, topping a $29 billion bid last month by its rival Canadian Pacific. They’re jockeying over the chance to create the first railroad connecting major ports from Canada to Mexico. The bidding war reflects bullishness about an industry poised for growth if a post-pandemic boom ushers in this generation’s “Roaring Twenties.”
antitrust concerns made the counterbid “illusory and inferior.” Kansas City Southern said it would evaluate the new bid in accordance with its agreement with its original suitor.
mixed reception from freight shippers, who suffered in the last round of consolidation. And we haven’t yet heard from Senator Amy Klobuchar, who heads the antitrust subcommittee and represents key industrial interests in Minnesota.
Giving Coinbase a run for its (digital) money
The public listing of Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S., generated a wave of excitement that competitors aim to ride. Among them is Binance.US, the third-ranked domestic crypto exchange, which yesterday named Brian Brooks — formerly Coinbase’s chief counsel and most recently acting U.S. comptroller of the currency — as C.E.O., beginning in May. “There’s a lot of buzz about my former employer, which is well-deserved,” Mr. Brooks told DealBook about Coinbase. “But it’s in everybody’s best interest if there’s more competition.”
Mr. Brooks’ first task is building trust with regulators. He says “managing reputation” is his biggest concern. Binance has shifted its operations throughout Asia since it was founded in 2017, and some say it played fast and loose with rules. The C.F.T.C. was reportedly investigating the company for allowing U.S.-based customers to trade crypto derivatives, which is banned (the agency declined to comment). Mr. Brooks insists he did “a lot” of due diligence on his new employer and dismisses “loose talk” about the exchange flouting regulations.
Binance’s group C.E.O., CZ Zhao, says he embraces regulation. Hiring Mr. Brooks is one way the company is trying to make the point. Binance also hired Max Baucus, the former Montana senator and ambassador to China, last month, along with other former regulators.
Binance.US sees potential to lead in undeveloped areas of the American crypto landscape, like derivatives and lending. Mr. Brooks said the company can learn from competitors like Coinbase and Kraken — and challenge them. That is, if he can convince regulators to bless its efforts to bring crypto into the financial mainstream, a preoccupation of players across the industry.
JPMorgan wants to end banker burnout, for real this time
Yesterday, JPMorgan Chase’s co-heads of investment banking, Jim Casey and Viswas Raghavan, announced policies aimed at improving working conditions amid record deal volume and banker burnout. The company has attempted similar things before. DealBook spoke with Mr. Casey about the latest plan — and whether this one will stick.
JPMorgan has recently hired 65 analysts and 22 associates, and plans to add another 100 junior bankers and support staff, Mr. Casey said. It’s targeting bankers at rival firms, as well as lawyers and accountants interested in a career switch.
similar efforts to protect junior bankers’ hours in 2016, but “it wasn’t stringently enforced,” Mr. Casey said. Why not? “Laziness.” This time, junior bankers’ hours and feedback will figure in senior manager performance evaluation and compensation.
“It’s not a money problem,” Mr. Casey said, so there won’t be one-time checks or free Pelotons after a rush.Junior bankers will get their share of the record $3 billion in fees JPMorgan earned in the first quarter.
Some things won’t change. Because banking is a client-service job, managers sometimes have limited control over workloads and hours. “You might do 100 deals a year, but that client only does one deal every three years,” Mr. Casey said.
How the bank will measure success: “Ask me what our turnover ratio has gone to and I will tell you,” Mr. Casey said. The goal, he said, is “lower.”
THE SPEED READ
Politics and policy
Senator Bernie Sanders is co-sponsoring a bill that would impose a financial transaction tax on Wall Street to drastically expand tuition-free access to community colleges and trade schools. (CNBC)
Twelve megadonors accounted for nearly $1 of every $13 raised by federal candidates and political groups since 2009, a new study found. (NYT)
Best of the rest
The Sacklers, the family that founded the maker of OxyContin, are worth about $11 billion, according to documents released by a Congressional committee. (WSJ)
“Behind the Mysterious Demise of a $1.7 Billion Mutual Fund.” (WSJ)
Amazon is opening a hair salon in London. It isn’t called Prime Cuts. (WaPo)
We’d like your feedback! Please email thoughts and suggestions to email@example.com.
The European Union on Wednesday unveiled strict regulations to govern the use of artificial intelligence, a first-of-its-kind policy that outlines how companies and governments can use a technology seen as one of the most significant, but ethically fraught, scientific breakthroughs in recent memory.
Presented at a news briefing in Brussels, the draft rules would set limits around the use of artificial intelligence in a range of activities, from self-driving cars to hiring decisions, school enrollment selections and the scoring of exams. It would also cover the use of artificial intelligence by law enforcement and court systems — areas considered “high risk” because they could threaten people’s safety or fundamental rights.
Some uses would be banned altogether, including live facial recognition in public spaces, though there would be some exemptions for national security and other purposes.
The rules have far-reaching implications for major technology companies including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft that have poured resources into developing artificial intelligence, but also scores of other companies that use the technology in health care, insurance and finance. Governments have used versions of the technology in criminal justice and allocating public services.
Companies that violate the new regulations, which are expected to take several years to debate and implement, could face fines of up to 6 percent of global sales.
Artificial intelligence — where machines are trained to learn how to perform jobs on their own by studying huge volumes of data — is seen by technologists, business leaders and government officials as one of the world’s most transformative technologies.
But as the systems become more sophisticated it can be harder to determine why the technology is making a decision, a problem that could get worse as computers become more powerful. Researchers have raised ethical questions about its use, suggesting that it could perpetuate existing biases in society, invade privacy, or result in more jobs being automated.
“On artificial intelligence, trust is a must, not a nice to have,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission executive vice president who oversees digital policy for the 27-nation bloc, said in a statement. “With these landmark rules, the E.U. is spearheading the development of new global norms to make sure A.I. can be trusted.”
In introducing the draft rules, the European Union is attempting to further establish itself as the world’s most aggressive watchdog of the technology industry. The bloc has already enacted the world’s most far-reaching data-privacy regulations, and is also debating additional antitrust and content-moderation laws.
In Washington, the risks of artificial intelligence are also being considered. This week, the Federal Trade Commission warned against the sale of artificial intelligence systems that use racially-biased algorithms, or ones that could “deny people employment, housing, credit, insurance, or other benefits.”
The past year has crushed independent restaurants across the country and brought a reality to their doors: Many were unprepared for a digital world.
Unlike other small retailers, restaurateurs could keep the tech low, with basic websites and maybe Instagram accounts with tantalizing, well-lit photos of their food. It meant businesses like BentoBox, which aims to help restaurants build more robust websites with e-commerce abilities, were a hard sell, Amy Haimerl reports for The New York Times.
For many, BentoBox’s services were a “nice to have,” not a necessity, the company’s founder, Krystle Mobayeni, said.
But the pandemic sent chefs and owners flocking to the firm as they suddenly needed to add to-go ordering, delivery scheduling, gift card sales and more to their websites. Before the pandemic the company, based in New York City, had about 4,800 clients, including the high-profile Manhattan restaurant Gramercy Tavern; today it has more than 7,000 restaurants on board and recently received a $28.8 million investment led by Goldman Sachs.
The moment opened a well of opportunity for other companies like it. Dozens of firms have either started or scaled up sharply as they found their services in urgent demand. Meanwhile, investors and venture capitalists have been sourcing deals in the “restaurant tech” sector — particularly seeking companies that bring the big chains’ advantages to independent restaurants.
A growing number of retirees and those approaching retirement are in debt.
The share of households headed by someone 55 or older with debt — from credit cards, mortgages, medical bills and student loans — increased to 68.4 percent in 2019, from 53.8 percent in 1992, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A survey at the end of 2020 by Clever, an online real estate service, found that on average, retirees had doubled their nonmortgage debt in 2020 — to $19,200.
Susan B. Garland reports for The New York Times on what to do if you’re in this position:
Consult a nonprofit credit counseling agency, which will review a client’s expenses and income sources and create a custom action plan. The initial budgeting session is often free, said Bruce McClary, senior vice president for communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. An action plan could include cutting unnecessary spending, such as selling a rarely used car and banking some proceeds for taxi fare.
Tap into senior-oriented government benefits, such as property tax relief, utility assistance and Medicare premium subsidies. The National Council on Aging operates a clearinghouse website for them, BenefitsCheckUp.org. “The average individual 65-plus on a fixed income is leaving $7,000 annually on the table” in unused benefits, said Ramsey Alwin, the council’s president.
Avoid using high-interest credit cards to fill income gaps. Medical bills typically charge little or no interest but turn into high-interest costs if placed on credit cards, said Melinda Opperman, president of Credit.org. Instead, she said, patients should call hospitals or other providers directly to work out an arrangement.
Avoid taking out home-equity loans or lines of credit to pay off credit cards or medical bills, said Rose Perkins, quality assurance manager for CCCSMD, a credit counseling service. Though tapping home equity carries a lower interest rate than a credit card, a homeowner could put a home at risk if a job loss, the death of a spouse or illness made it difficult to pay off the lender, she said.
European stocks rose slightly on Wednesday, reversing some of the previous day’s drop, while U.S. stock futures indicated the S&P 500 would open lower. The sentiment in stock markets this week has shifted away from the optimism that recently set record highs amid growing concerns about coronavirus variants that are leading to new outbreaks.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.3 percent after plunging 1.9 percent on Tuesday. That was the biggest one-day decline since December. The S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent on Tuesday.
Oil prices fell, with futures on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, declining 1.2 percent to just below $62 a barrel.
Netflix shares dropped nearly 8 percent in premarket trading after its latest earnings report. For the first quarter of 2021, Netflix said it added four million new customers, less than the six million it had forecast. It’s another sign that, although Netflix still dominates streaming, its rivals are starting to catch up.
As plans for a European Super League for soccer rapidly fell apart on Tuesday, shares in publicly traded football clubs that had joined the group dropped. Manchester United shares fell in premarket trading in New York, extending a 6 percent drop from the previous day. Shares in Juventus, an Italian club, plummeted nearly 13 percent.
Inflation in Britain rose less in March than economists predicted. The annual rate of price increases was 0.7 percent, data published Wednesday showed, up from 0.4 percent in February. The jump is notable, but it is less than the 0.8 percent analysts had predicted. As in the United States, policymakers and economists expect some of the increase to be temporary and explained by transitionary factors such as the steep drop in oil prices this time last year. Therefore, bets are that the central bank won’t reduce its monetary stimulus yet.
LOS ANGELES — One of corporate Hollywood’s most enduring double acts is calling it quits.
Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley, senior executives at Searchlight Pictures for 21 of its 27 years, who shaped global culture with Oscar-winning hits like “12 Years a Slave,” “Black Swan,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” announced their surprise retirement on Tuesday. They will leave the Disney-owned specialty studio by the end of June, adding to a conspicuous changing of the guard at Walt Disney Company.
“You don’t want to be the show that stays on the air two seasons too long,” Ms. Utley said. “Get out while everything is still going well.”
She was joking — mostly. Searchlight has long been the gold standard of art film studios, packing its slate with diverse offerings long before Hollywood got the memo, and thriving in a changing marketplace — the DVD collapse, the rise of streaming competitors — even as once-formidable competitors like the Weinstein Company imploded. If the latest Searchlight success, “Nomadland,” wins the Academy Award for best picture on Sunday, as many expect, Mr. Gilula, 70, and Ms. Utley, 65, will have taken the top prize in four of the last eight ceremonies. That is a run unmatched by any specialty studio, even Miramax, which at its height won three best-picture Oscars.
The Shape of Water” (2018), “Birdman” (2015) and “12 Years a Slave” (2014). “Slumdog Millionaire” won in 2009.
The Trial of the Chicago 7.” Netflix has been chasing such a victory for years as the ultimate symbol of supremacy in Hollywood.
Searchlight has been rising to the challenge of streaming. “Nomadland,” from the Chinese-born filmmaker Chloé Zhao, was released in theaters and on Hulu, a Disney streaming service. But competing with Amazon, Apple and Netflix — and their seemingly bottomless wallets — for talent and material has become harder and harder. That has made the art film market more precarious for traditional studios like Searchlight, which will now be run by David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield, the current presidents.
“Every time my contract was up, to be candid, I always questioned whether I had the intestinal fortitude to fight through the next set of changes,” Mr. Gilula said. “Ultimately, pride and loyalty kept me going. And there has always been another fantastic film in the pipeline. Well, maybe after ‘Shape of Water,’ maybe after ‘Three Billboards.’ But this is it. With ‘Nomadland,’ which has shown that we haven’t lost our edge at all, adapting quickly to the pandemic, there is a great feeling of fulfillment.”
Robert A. Iger, executive chairman, is departing in December after 26 years at the company. Alan F. Horn, the top creative executive at Walt Disney Studios, has been edging toward retirement, as has Alan N. Braverman, Disney’s top lawyer. Jayne Parker, Disney’s powerful human resources chief, will step down in June after 33 years at the company.
“The people you mentioned have contributed mightily — myself excluded; I’m not talking about myself in this regard — to the success of the company, and in doing so have groomed people behind them who will take over the mantle,” Mr. Iger said. “I try to ease people’s concerns as much as possible. It’s certainly way too premature to express concern.”
Searchlight was one of the assets that Disney acquired from Rupert Murdoch in 2019. Mr. Iger, who orchestrated the deal, heaped praise on Ms. Utley and Mr. Gilula. “It takes a really deft hand to bring these smaller but extremely high-quality films to market, and they have Ph.D.’s in it,” he said.
Does their retirement signal a change in direction for Searchlight? The mini-studio, which has about 100 employees, is beloved by fans of grown-up cinema, especially as Hollywood has leaned harder toward all-audience franchise films.
“No, not at all,” Mr. Iger said. “We haven’t been particularly vocal about this, but we intend for Searchlight to play a big part in supplying content, not just for theaters but for our streaming platforms. We are going to invest more and more. Expect more output rather than less.”
Summer of Soul,” a documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival from Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” a comedy-drama-romance; and Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” about a manipulative carnival worker. Searchlight also has six television shows on the way with stars and directors that include Keira Knightley, Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”) and Darren Aronofsky.
Thomas E. Rothman, who is now Sony’s movie chief. At the time, specialty films — auteur-minded cinematic trinkets — were raking in money at the box office. “The Full Monty,” released by Searchlight in 1997, cost $3.5 million to make and took in $258 million worldwide (or nearly $430 million in today’s money). Over the years, market conditions changed markedly, particularly in the late 2000s, when an economic downturn dried up production financing.
As competitors like Rogue Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Picturehouse and Miramax faded away, Ms. Utley and Mr. Gilula kept Searchlight vibrant. Her specialty has been marketing, scripts and casting. He is a distribution ace who co-founded the Landmark Theaters chain in 1974. “There has never been a spreadsheet that Steve didn’t love,” Ms. Utley said dryly.
Aside from exquisite cinematic taste, the two executives, who both hail from the Midwest, are the rarest of species in Hollywood: genuinely nice people. Neither craves the spotlight. They are widely known in the film industry for campaigning for awards with integrity.
“Hopefully, we have set an example,” Mr. Gilula said, “showing that you don’t have to be the other kind of person to be successful in this business.”
Both insisted that Disney’s takeover of Searchlight (called Fox Searchlight while owned by Mr. Murdoch) played no role in their decision to retire.
“We were frustrated at Fox because Fox just didn’t have a streaming strategy and was very slow to react to marketplace changes,” Ms. Utley said, adding, “I think the transition to Disney has gone really smoothly, which is one reason I have all the faith in the world about the future of Searchlight.”
Netflix still rules the streaming universe. As of the end of March, it had 207.6 million total paying subscribers, with about 67 million in the United States, the company noted in an earnings report on Tuesday.
But its main competitors — Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and AppleTV+, as well as the old-guard streamers Amazon Prime Video and Hulu — have cut into Netflix’s share of viewers’ attention.
The global demand for original Netflix programs, like “Bridgerton,” the much buzzed-about romance series from the super-producer Shonda Rhimes, has started to drop relative to similar offerings from newcomers, according to the data firm Parrot Analytics, which has developed a metric to rate not only the number of viewers for given shows, but their likelihood of attracting subscribers to a streaming service.
In its latest rankings, Parrot reported that Netflix’s share of total demand — a measure of the popularity of its shows — was slightly above 50 percent for the first three months of the year, compared with 54 percent a year ago and 65 percent in the first quarter of 2019.
password sharing, long a common practice.
a record 15.7 million subscribers.
As much of the world went into lockdown, people turned to screens to while away the hours. Netflix recorded a jump in new sign-ups, leading to a record year of nearly 37 million additional customers. The company is unlikely to repeat that performance for 2021 as restaurants, stores, theaters and sports stadiums start opening up to full capacity across the country.
But Netflix is an international business. The majority of its revenues now come from overseas, and it has banked its future growth on emerging markets such as India and Latin America. Those regions have had recent surges in coronavirus cases, prompting new lockdowns. Most of the world, including Europe, has not vaccinated its citizens as quickly as the United States.
Netflix is still spending big. It spent $465 million to buy two sequels to the hit whodunit “Knives Out,” a price tag 50 percent higher than the first film’s gross receipts. It’s also 10 times what the film cost to produce. Hollywood lit up with chatter. Did Netflix overpay?
The film’s director, Rian Johnson, came up with the idea for the film, and he and his producing partner control the rights. The lucrative deal is in keeping with Netflix’s expensive courtship of Hollywood creators. It has nine-figure agreements with prolific television producers including Ms. Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, as well as the actor-producer Adam Sandler. Mr. Johnson could join their ranks by creating additional series and films for the company.
Despite Netflix’s push into owning its own content, it recently entered into a distribution agreement with Sony Pictures Entertainment, the last major Hollywood studio not tied to any streaming business. Netflix will have rights to some Marvel franchises, including the Sony-controlled “Spider-Man,” and several offshoots based on the character.
The company reported profit of $1.7 billion on revenue of $7.16 billion for the first quarter. Investors were looking to $1.3 billion in profit on $7.1 billion in sales.
hit a milestone at the end of last year, when it said it would no longer look to borrow money to fund its content slate. Another way to look at it: Netflix finally became a truly profitable business after topping 200 million subscribers, each paying an average of $11 a month.
In other words: Its competitors are still losing lots of money on streaming.
U.S. economy. It might also help set expectations for the stock market, after a big rally already this year.
The consensus among 76 economists polled by Bloomberg is that gross domestic product will expand by 6.2 percent in 2021, which would make it the best year for economic growth since 1984. And sentiment among analysts covering the stock market is almost universally bullish, given that strong economic tailwind.
“You’d almost have to be self-deceiving to expect U.S. companies overall to underperform consensus, given how the macro backdrop is driving revenues so well,” wrote John Vail, chief global strategist at Nikko Asset Management.
The expectations for profit growth are even more elevated for the current quarter: Analysts expect that the three months ending in June will see companies in the S&P 500 notch a 54-percent rise in profits, compared with the prior year.
That increase, of course, reflects a rebound from the worst of the pandemic-bred downturn. But it also is a result of “economic re-acceleration, and a rebound in commodity prices,” said Jonathan Golub, a stock market analyst at Credit Suisse.
Of course, if everyone is expecting such a surge in profits, the good news could already be fully incorporated into stock prices — and that means anything short of perfect results would make for a difficult stretch for stocks.
That has certainly been the case with some of the banks that reported earnings last week. Shares of Morgan Stanley, for example, dropped 2.8 percent on Friday even though the bank reported record revenue and profit.
The S&P 500 is already up more than 11 percent in 2021, and hit yet another record high on Friday.
That could mean the market is due for a pullback anyway. The index is relatively expensive by metrics such as the price-to-earnings ratio, which compares stock prices as a share of expected corporate profits over the next 12 months.
The S&P 500 is trading at nearly 23 times expected earnings. That’s roughly the valuation the index has held for most of the past year, but it’s very high by historical standards.
Over the last 20 years, the S&P 500 has traded at an average of 16 times expected earnings.
By comparison, a valuation of 23 times expected earnings is closer to where stock market valuations stood at the tail-end of the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s. When that ended, the S&P 500 fell roughly 50 percent before it hit bottom.
The Dutch bank ABN Amro said Monday that it would pay a $580 million fine to settle money laundering charges, prompting a former ABN manager to resign his new job as chief executive of Danske Bank after acknowledging he was a target in a related criminal investigation.
The resignation of Chris Vogelzang is an embarrassment for Danske Bank, Denmark’s largest bank, which hired him in 2019 to rebuild trust following a money laundering scandal there. Before becoming chief executive of Danske, Mr. Vogelzang had been a member of the management board of ABN Amro responsible for retail and private banking services.
Mr. Vogelzang acknowledged that Dutch authorities considered him a suspect in the investigation that led ABN Amro to agree to pay 480 million euros to settle money laundering charges. In numerous cases, according to a report by Dutch authorities, ABN Amro ignored warning signs that some clients were criminals using it as a conduit for dirty money.
Mr. Vogelzang said in a statement that he was “surprised” to learn that Dutch authorities consider him a suspect. During his time at ABN Amro, he said, “I managed my management responsibilities with integrity and dedication.”
Noting that Danske Bank remains under “intense scrutiny” because of money laundering at its former unit in Estonia, Mr. Vogelzang said he did “not want speculations about my person to get in the way of the continued development of Danske Bank.”
Danske named Carsten Egeriis, previously the bank’s chief risk officer, to succeed Mr. Vogelzang.
Gerrit Zalm, a member of Danske’s board who was chief executive of ABN Amro from 2009 to 2017, will also resign, the bank said. It did not give a reason.
Danske Bank admitted in 2018 that its headquarters and its Estonian branch, which it has since closed, failed for years to prevent suspected money laundering involving thousands of customers.
In the ABN Amro case, Dutch authorities found that the bank failed to act on obvious signs of illicit activity, including large cash transactions. In several cases, authorities said, the bank continued to serve clients whose criminal activities had been reported by the media, or who had a known history of fraud.
“As a bank we do not merely have a legal, but also a moral duty to do our utmost to protect the financial system against abuse by criminals,” Robert Swaak, the ABN Amro chief executive, said in a statement. “Regretfully, I have to acknowledge that in the past we have been insufficiently successful in properly fulfilling our important role as gatekeeper.”
More people are flying every day, as Covid restrictions ease and vaccinations accelerate. But dangerous variants have led to new outbreaks, raising fears of a deadly prolonging of the pandemic.
To understand how safe it is to fly now, The Times enlisted researchers to simulate how air particles flow within the cabin of an airplane, and how potential viral elements may pose a risk.
For instance, when a passenger sneezes, air blown from the sides pushes particles toward the aisle, where they combine with air from the opposite row. Not all particles are the same size, and most don’t contain infectious viral matter. But if passengers nearby weren’t wearing masks, even briefly to eat a snack, the sneezed air could increase their chances of inhaling viral particles.
How air flows in planes is not the only part of the safety equation, according to infectious-disease experts. The potential for exposure may be just as high, if not higher, when people are in the terminal, sitting in airport restaurants and bars or going through the security line.
“The challenge isn’t just on a plane,” said Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist specializing in infection prevention. “Consider the airport and the whole journey.”
Members of the National Association of Realtors — the nation’s largest industry group, numbering 1.4 million real estate professionals — are challenging a moratorium on evictions put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Both the Alabama and the Georgia Associations of Realtors sued the federal government over the matter, and the national association is paying for all of the legal costs. A hearing is scheduled for April 29, Ron Lieber reports for The New York Times.
The N.A.R. spends more money on federal lobbying than any other entity, according to the Center for Responsive for Politics. To puzzle out its actions and advocacy, let’s first be crystal clear about what the N.A.R. is and whose interests it serves. As its own chief executive boasted to members in 2017, it’s really the National Association for Realtors, not of them.
And of those million-plus members, according to the association, about 38 percent own at least one rental property. The N.A.R. isn’t shy about this, stating on the lobbying section of its website that it wants to “protect property interests.”
Why would it do this? The N.A.R. expert on the topic was unable to schedule a phone call, according to a spokesman.
But if you’re selecting a listing agent for your house from among their members, ask that person about this issue if you’re curious or concerned. Many of them have no idea what the N.A.R. is advocating on their behalf.
Here come the lobbyists.
The cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, the asset manager Fidelity, the payments company Square and the investment firm Paradigm have established a new trade group in Washington: The Crypto Council for Innovation. The group hopes to influence policies that will be critical for expanding the use of cryptocurrencies in conjunction with traditional finance, Ephrat Livni reports in the DealBook newsletter.
Cryptocurrencies are still mostly held as speculative assets, but some experts believe Bitcoin and related blockchain technologies will become fundamental parts of the financial system, and the success of businesses built around the technology may also invite more attention from regulators.
“We’re going to increasingly be having scrutiny about what we’re doing,” Brian Armstrong, Coinbase’s chief executive, said on CNBC. “We’re very excited and happy to play by the rules,” he added, but regulation of crypto should be on a “level playing field with traditional financial services.”
Here are four of the issues that will keep crypto lobbyists busy:
The Crypto Council’s first commissioned publication is an analysis of Bitcoin’s illicit use, and it concludes that concerns are “significantly overstated” and that blockchain technology could be better used by law enforcement to stop crime and collect intelligence.
New anti-money-laundering rules passed this year will significantly expand disclosures for digital currencies. The Treasury Department has also proposed rules that would require detailed reporting for transactions over $3,000 involving “unhosted wallets,” or digital wallets that are not associated with a third-party financial institution, and require institutions handling cryptocurrencies to process more data.
When is a digital asset a security and when is it a commodity? Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are released via a decentralized network generally qualify as commodities and are less heavily regulated than securities, which represent a stake in a venture. Tokens released by people and companies are more likely to be characterized as securities because they more often represent a stake in the issuer’s project.
The Chinese government is already experimenting with a central bank digital currency, a digital yuan. China would be the first country to create a virtual currency, but many are considering it. Some crypto advocates worry that China’s alacrity in the space threatens the dollar, national security and American competitiveness.
European stocks were mixed on Monday, and U.S. stock futures drifted lower, at the beginning of a week when hundreds of public companies will report earnings, including Coca-Cola, Netflix and United Airlines.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.1 percent, pushing further into record territory. The European index has climbed for the past seven weeks. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 hit a record on Friday after a string of strong economic reports and company earnings. On Monday, futures indicated it would open about 0.4 percent weaker.
European government bond yields climbed higher on Monday as investors awaited the European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decisions, which will be announced on Thursday. Last month, the central bank said it would quicken the pace of its asset purchases to tamp down an increase in bond yields.
Elsewhere in markets
Peloton shares dropped nearly 6 percent in premarket trading after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an “urgent warning” about the exercise equipment company’s treadmill. The agency said users with small children at home should stop using the machine after reports of injuries and one fatality.
Coinbase shares slipped nearly 4 percent in premarket trading with other crypto-related stocks. Over the weekend, the price of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, plummeted by more than $7,000, or about 9 percent.
GameStop shares rose 6 percent in premarket trading as the video game retailer announced that its chief executive would be stepping down by the end of July. The company, which was at the center of a retail trading frenzy earlier this year, has been shaken up by the incoming chairman, Ryan Cohen, who is an activist investor in the company pushing for a digital turnaround.
Oil prices were slightly lower. Futures of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, fell 0.3 percent to just below $63 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar fell against other major currencies, including a 0.4 percent drop against both the euro and the British pound. It was also 0.6 percent weaker against the Japanese yen.
“The pandemic has really put the streamers head to head with theatrical distribution,” said James Moore, chief executive of Vine Alternative Investments, an asset manager focused on the entertainment industry. “Now you’re seeing the economics really accelerate towards the streamers, and they have both the wherewithal and the strategic need to retain those gains.”
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“Knives Out,” with a cast led by Daniel Craig and Chris Evans, earned $311 million at theaters, close to half of it in international markets — the biggest growth opportunity for streaming services. It was one of the few box office winners in the past few years not based on a comic book or on existing intellectual property that was tied up in a lengthy studio deal.
(John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place,” from 2018, is another example. But that R-rated horror film was owned by Paramount, and it was such a box office boon that its sequel was one of the few films the studio held on to during the pandemic. It is scheduled to come out in theaters on Memorial Day weekend.)
For the original “Knives Out,” Mr. Johnson’s representatives at Creative Artists Agency negotiated a one-film licensing agreement with the film’s distributors, MRC and Lionsgate. That deal gave Mr. Johnson and his producing partner, Ram Bergman, control of the franchise and the right to shop future iterations to other parties. (Mr. Craig, who played the arch Southern detective Benoit Blanc in the film, is also an equity participant in the deal.)
The movie is part of a tried-and-true genre — the star-studded whodunit — that has been reinvented in recent years. “Murder Mystery,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was a hit for Netflix in 2019. Kenneth Branagh’s reimagining of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” in 2017 worked well for Disney’s Fox division, pulling in $352 million, including $250 million from the international market. (A follow-up, “Death on the Nile,” has been pushed to 2022, partly because one of its stars, Armie Hammer, has been tarnished by a recent sex scandal.)
The “Knives Out” deal also highlights how much easier it is for a streaming service to exploit an already known title than to build one itself. While Netflix scored big with the 2018 Sandra Bullock film “Bird Box” — it said 89 million households had tuned in to watch the film within four weeks of its release — it is just now gearing up for a sequel, a Spanish-language version that won’t feature the original star.
If you wanted to sound smart at a media business conference or sell your start-up over the last couple of years, you’d talk about the rise of digital subscriptions. Netflix and Spotify led the way in getting consumers to pay every month for their content, and The New York Times, The Washington Post and many others followed. By last week, everyone was hawking media subscriptions, from the owners of the SpongeBob SquarePants TV show ($5.99 a month) to the staid newswire Reuters ($35) to my friend Isaac who wanders aimlessly around New York ($7).
The astonishing rise of subscription digital media is part of a broader rush toward the reliable, direct-to-consumer economics that has captivated investors. You can now subscribe to huge hits like Disney+ and Peloton as well as niche ventures like high-end dog food and beans.
Digital media executives scrambled last year to tell their boards about their new subscription products, but something strange happened: Their old, unfashionable advertising businesses exploded as consumers stayed home and shopped online. And now, travel companies, liquor companies and basically everyone else hoping to capitalize on a wide open summer and the marketing dream of a post-pandemic Roaring Twenties economic boom have begun pouring money into advertising on virtually every platform, but digital media most of all.
“Ad spending is red-hot right now,” says Henry Blodget, a co-founder of Business Insider, which was early to introduce a subscription tier in 2017. “The economy is cranking up, travel and leisure are coming back, and consumers are emerging from their pandemic cocoons.”
report by the agency GroupM last month showed that advertising in digital media grew by more than 7 percent in 2020, even as television advertising declined and print collapsed during the pandemic. (The Times lagged those other publishers in digital ad sales growth in 2020, even as its print advertising business dropped sharply during the pandemic. But it made up that ground on subscriptions.) “Advertisers followed consumers online” during the crisis, said Sarah Iooss, the head of sales for the Americas at the gaming platform Twitch. The GroupM report projects that digital advertising will grow 22 percent in 2021.
“The venture capital world spent a decade betting against advertising, and it’s about to blow up in their faces,” predicted Bryan Goldberg, the chief executive of Bustle, which has bought brands including Mic and Nylon, and is planning to restart Gawker.
There are plenty of reasons to be cautious about this revival. One is that, for all the political pressure on Google and Facebook, they continue to be the behemoths of the American advertising market. About 87 percent of last year’s growth went to those two companies, according to an estimate that the trade group Digital Content Next did for me, based on figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Facebook alone brought in more than $84 billion in advertising revenue last year.
There have been suggestions that a coming Apple crackdown on how apps can collect data from users, along with growing global regulatory pressure, could slow the juggernauts, but those moves may also damage the business of other media companies who collect user data. The most successful new entrant to the digital advertising market is Amazon, which now devours more than 10 percent of the country’s digital advertising business by charging merchants to promote their own products on its marketplace.
One of the legislators who has pushed to rein in the power of the tech giants, Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who heads the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, said the improving advertising business would not dampen the appetite in Washington for a crackdown on “monopoly power” in Big Tech.
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“These are structural problems in the marketplace, and none of that will be changed by a few strong quarters,” he said.
The boom in digital advertising is lifting online publishers, but they aren’t the biggest beneficiaries. Even as television is getting a smaller share of the advertising market, the most sought-after digital advertising outlets are the new “connected TV” platforms — places like Roku, Hulu and Viacom’s Pluto TV. Those platforms put old-fashioned television ads next to old-fashioned television shows, but also provide advertisers detailed data on who is watching.
At the same time, advertisers remain skittish of news, in particular, using key words to block display advertisements from appearing next to stories about polarizing subjects. The president of global news and entertainment at Vice, Jesse Angelo, said he had declined a request last year from an entertainment company that, while celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement on its own website, asked Vice to block its ads from appearing near the terms “Black,” “Black people” and “Black Lives Matter.”
The big picture, though, amounts to a kind of optimism unseen in the gloomy digital publishing business for nearly half a decade.
“I don’t know that I could’ve predicted it at this level,” said Bloomberg Media Group’s chief executive, Justin Smith. “We haven’t seen digital advertising growth in high double digits since maybe 2017.”
And it’s not just advertising. Media executives are scrambling to catch up with demand for the other elements of their business that have fallen out of favor as subscriptions ascended, notably events.
“In the second half of this year, there is just going to be an onslaught of physical events,” said Chris Weil, the chairman and chief executive of the experiential advertising agency Momentum.
None of this is to say, of course, that media businesses will back away from subscriptions. That’s partly because investors continue to value the reliability of that business over the boom and bust of advertising. Advertisers salivate at the idea of inserting commercials into your favorite Netflix shows, but Netflix would never consider it when its stock is riding so high on subscriptions alone.
And paradoxically, one of the forces driving the digital advertising boom is the shift toward subscriptions that was supposed to replace advertising revenue. Selling subscriptions, it turns out, is pretty expensive and the streaming entertainment companies “need to spend a ton of money on marketing,” said Matthew Segal, a co-founder of ATTN, a Los Angeles-based media company.
Not all the entrants in the subscription boom will make it, and the notoriously cyclical advertising business will no doubt rise and fall with economic cycles again. For now, though, it has shifted many media companies’ calculus, and lifted their moods.
“It won’t last forever,” Mr. Blodget said. “But we’ll enjoy it while it does.”
who died last week at age 99, will be laid to rest on Saturday after a funeral service at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. His send-off will be highly unusual — in part because coronavirus restrictions meant the ceremony had to be scaled back, but also because it comes just after a very public airing of a family rift.
Pandemic rules in Britain have meant that the funeral will be pared down, with adjustments that include a limit of 30 guests at the church service. The queen and select family members will all be wearing masks and seated six feet apart.
The subdued service will reflect not only the reality of life in a pandemic, but also Philip’s own wishes for the ceremony, Buckingham Palace said in a statement this week. The prince was deeply involved in the organization of the event, which was years in the planning.
Before the ceremony — which will be live-streamed from nytimes.com and in this briefing from about 2:30 to 4 p.m. London time (9:30 to 11 a.m. Eastern) — Philip’s coffin will be moved on Saturday afternoon from a private chapel in Windsor Castle to the castle’s Inner Hall, where prayers will be said.
The ceremony will be rich with symbolism and nods to Philip’s life of service to the royal family and to the nation. The Grenadier Guards, a centuries-old regiment of the British Army, which the Duke of Edinburgh served as a colonel for more than four decades, will place his coffin on a hearse that the prince helped design. The vehicle, a modified Land Rover Defender, will then lead a small procession toward St. George’s Chapel, also on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The process of designing the hearse began 18 years ago, and tweaks were still being made up until 2019. The open-top rear section was custom-made to Philip’s specifications, and the original vehicle was repainted “dark bronze green,” typical of military use, at his request.
Philip served in the Royal Navy, seeing combat during World War II, and his naval cap and sword will be placed on his coffin before the funeral service. The coffin will be draped in his personal flag, which pays tribute to his Greek heritage and his British titles. A variety of other military groups will be represented during the procession, and a team of Royal Marines will carry the coffin into St. George’s Chapel.
Members of the royal family — including Philip’s four children, Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward, and some of his grandchildren, including William and Harry — will walk behind the coffin as it is driven to the chapel. Those with honorary military titles are expected to wear suits displaying their medals rather than uniforms, reportedly in deference to Prince Harry, who was forced to give up his military titles when he stepped away from royal duties.
The queen will arrive at the chapel by car. Before the service begins, there will be a national minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time.
There was much speculation about how the family dynamic would play out, as the funeral will be the first time that Prince Harry has returned to Britain since stepping down as a senior royal. The service also comes just weeks after he and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a bombshell interview to Oprah Winfrey in which they laid bare their problems with the royal family.
The funeral service will last less than an hour. A choir of four will sing music chosen by Prince Philip. They will be located some distance from the seated guests, in line with public health guidelines, Buckingham Palace said.
His body will then be interred in the royal vault in St George’s Chapel. Flags in Britain that have flown at half-staff at royal residences since his death will remain that way until Sunday.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who married the future queen in 1947, brought the monarchy into the 20th century.
Almost 24 years ago, the world watched as a pair of brothers, age 15 and 12, walked a mile through the grounds of Windsor Castle behind a horse-drawn carriage holding their mother’s coffin.
The image of the boys, Prince William and Prince Harry, heads bowed as they walked slowly alongside their father, uncle and grandfather, became seared into Britain’s national consciousness.
On Saturday afternoon, the eyes of the country and the world will again turn to the brothers at a different funeral — that of their grandfather, Prince Philip.
This time, much of the interest is centered on the relationship between the princes, weeks after Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, gave a searing interview to Oprah Winfrey and spoke of their differences with the royal family. Harry also described his brother and father, Prince Charles, as being “trapped” by their roles.
William and Harry will both walk behind their grandfather’s coffin during a procession to the funeral service, but Prince Philip’s eldest grandchild, Peter Phillips, will walk between the brothers, according to plans released by Buckingham Palace.
Speculation about whether their grandfather’s funeral will help heal the brothers’ apparently strained relationship has swirled since Philip’s death on April 9. Prince Harry returned to Britain this past week from his home in California, his first visit since stepping down as a senior royal last year. Meghan, who is pregnant, remained at home on doctor’s orders, Buckingham Palace said.
In the days leading up to the funeral, the British tabloids pored over the brothers’ relationship, with the Daily Mail asking, “If you were William, could you forgive Harry?” But in public statements, both men focused on the personal loss of their family’s patriarch.
In his statement, William said of his grandfather, “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life — both through good times and the hardest days.”
“I will miss my grandpa, but I know he would want us to get on with the job,” he added.
Harry, in a separate statement, said that Philip had been “authentically himself” and was a man who “could hold the attention of any room due to his charm.” He added that his grandfather would be remembered “as the longest-reigning consort to the monarch, a decorated serviceman, a prince and a duke.”
“But to me,” Harry added, “like many of you who have lost a loved one or grandparent over the pain of this past year, he was my grandpa: master of the barbecue, legend of banter, and cheeky right ’til the end.”
Alan Cowell,a longtime New York Times correspondent, reflects on the death of Prince Philip and his funeral.
Elizabeth and Philip were married the year I was born — 1947 — when Britain’s deference toward its royal family had not yet been exposed to the merciless shredding that was to come. Back then, my own family might almost have seen itself reflected, albeit remotely, in their lives.
Like Prince Philip, whose funeral is on Saturday, my father had served in World War II, on deployments that were so protracted that, my mother recalled, she went three years without seeing him. In London, Buckingham Palace was bombed. So, too, were the rowhouses in Barrow-in-Furness in northwestern England where my aunts, uncles and grandparents lived, close to the shipyards targeted by the German Air Force.
When Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, we clustered around a small black-and-white television at a neighbor’s home to follow what was billed as the country’s first coronation to be broadcast live. Certainly, it was a moment of pomp that seemed to fete Britain’s re-emergence from postwar deprivation.
But by the time Prince Philip died last week, Britons had long ceased to march quite so closely in step with the royals. The mirror had become distant, supplanted by the oft-voiced questions: When did the sovereign family and its subjects begin to go their separate ways? And what does that bode for the future of the monarchy?
Amid coronavirus restrictions, Britain has had to adjust how it grieves over the past year. And with current rules allowing for just 30 people at funerals, the royal family scaled back plans for the service for Prince Philip.
A select handful of his closest family members will be the only ones allowed in St. George’s Chapel. They will be required to wear masks, follow social-distancing guidelines and refrain from singing, Buckingham Palace has said.
So who will those 30 people be?
First, of course, there is Queen Elizabeth II. Like the rest of the family, she will wear a face covering and sit at least six feet from other attendees.
Several family members will take part in the procession behind Philip’s coffin before they enter the chapel. The custom-built hearse will be followed by his daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal; and by his son Charles, the Prince of Wales. Directly behind them will be their younger brothers, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex; and Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Then some of Philip’s grandchildren will follow: Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex; Peter Philips, the son of Princess Anne; and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, in that order.
Behind them will be the final two in the procession: Vice Admiral Tim Lawrence, Princess Anne’s husband; and David Armstrong-Jones, the Earl of Snowdon and son of Princess Margaret, the queen’s deceased sister.
Other family members will gather inside the church. Charles’s wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be seated with him, and Prince Edward will be joined by his wife, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, and their two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn.
Prince William’s wife, Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, will also join him in the church. Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, who is pregnant with their second child, did not travel with him from their home in California.
Zara Tindall, Princess Anne’s daughter; and the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew — along with their spouses — are also scheduled to be present.
Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, and her husband, Daniel Chatto, will attend, as will three of the queen’s cousins who regularly carry out official royal duties: Prince Richard, the Duke of Gloucester; Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent; and Princess Alexandra.
Three of Prince Philip’s German relatives will also be in attendance: Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden; Donatus, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse; and Philipp, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.
And there was room for one more distant family member, Penelope Knatchbull, Countess Mountbatten, who was a close friend and carriage-driving partner of Prince Philip. She is married to the grandson of Lord Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle, who was much beloved by the royal family. Lord Mountbatten was killed by the Irish Republican Army in 1979.
With Covid-19 restrictions limiting the numbers of mourners at Prince Philip’s funeral, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is one of the most prominent figures to miss Saturday’s ceremony in Windsor Castle.
Under regular circumstances, Mr. Johnson would have been high on the list of several hundred people invited to pay their last respects at the ceremony, a significant moment in Britain’s national life.
But as soon as attention began to focus on the practicalities of holding the funeral under pandemic rules, Downing Street said that Mr. Johnson would not attend.
“The Prime Minister has throughout wanted to act in accordance with what is best for the royal household, and so to allow for as many family members as possible will not be attending the funeral on Saturday,” Downing Street said in a statement last weekend.
Given that his government designed the coronavirus restrictions, Mr. Johnson’s decision to make space for family members looks well judged, and at least allows him to say that he will watch the event like most Britons, on a screen.
British political leaders must tread a fine diplomatic line in dealings with their monarch, who is their head of state and leads a royal family that attracts worldwide interest.
Participating in royal ceremonies usually raises the prestige of politicians, but there are dangers in being considered eager to exploit the attention generated by royal occasions — particularly when a member of the royal family has died.
That is something that Mr. Johnson will recall from his previous career as a journalist.
In 2002, the Spectator and the Mail on Sunday accused Downing Street of intervening in arrangements for the funeral of the Queen Mother to try to secure a more prominent role for Tony Blair, who was prime minister at the time.
Downing Street denied the claims, saying it had sought only to clarify what role Mr. Blair would play rather than seeking to expand it. It even protested to a press watchdog but ultimately withdrew its complaint after much negative publicity in the aftermath of the Queen Mother’s funeral.
That was at least a partial victory for the Spectator, whose editor at the time was Mr. Johnson.
NAIROBI, Kenya — At a state lodge in Kenya’s central highlands, Prince Philip in February 1952 delivered to his wife of four years, then known as Princess Elizabeth, the news that would change their lives forever: Her father, King George VI, had died, and she was to be queen.
Philip, who died on April 9 at age 99, spent the next seven decades not only as the queen’s consort, but also in a central role in reshaping Britain’s monarchy for the modern era. Known as the Duke of Edinburgh, he was a patron or member of hundreds of organizations, devoted himself to educational and scientific projects, and attended public events to support the queen — participating in more than 22,000 solo engagements before his retirement in 2017.
But in parsing Philip’s legacy, his most visible role for much of the world outside Britain was in complementing the queen as she fulfilled her duties as head of the Commonwealth. The organization, largely composed of colonies once under the British Empire, has defined Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.
From the onset, Philip recognized the monarchy’s “centrality” in the Commonwealth, said Sean Lang, a senior lecturer in history at Anglia Ruskin University in Britain. And over the next few decades, he established initiatives like the Commonwealth Study Conferences to examine and find solutions for global challenges, in addition to founding the Duke of Edinburgh award program, which helped millions of young people build self-confidence and hone their outdoor skills.
The projects not only “transformed lives,” Mr. Lang said, but also “helped to associate the monarchy with shaping the future instead of living in the past.”
Yet the concept of the Commonwealth, aimed at projecting and preserving British influence, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly in the wake of the recent interview Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, gave to Oprah Winfrey. In it, they related that a member or members of the royal family had said they did not want the couple’s child, Archie, to be a prince or princess, and expressed concerns about how dark his skin would be.
The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have also revived debates in Britain around racism and the legacy of empire, even as more Commonwealth nations mull abandoning the queen as their head of state, or declare themselves a republic.
As Philip is being lauded for supporting the queen in upholding the Commonwealth, that depiction represents a kind of romantic fixation that detracts from history, said Patrick Gathara, a political commentator and cartoonist in Kenya.
“It’s made to seem that we should be invested in this institution rather than in the history that it actually represents,” Mr. Gathara said, adding, “The Commonwealth is born of colonialism and imperialism.”
After his death, Prince Philip’s sometimes offensive and racist remarks have also been revisited. During his tours around Commonwealth nations, he reportedly remarked to a former president of Nigeria, who wore a traditional dress, “You look like you are ready for bed.” He once asked, “You are a woman, aren’t you?” after accepting a gift from a woman in Kenya.
While different people will remember the comments differently — from blunders to jokes to derogatory statements — Mr. Gathara said the remarks expressed something deeper about privilege and power structures that continue to shape the world.
“If we had much more cognizance of the racist nature of the world’s system that grew out of colonialism, then these sort of statements, we wouldn’t see them as curiosities,” Mr. Gathara said. “We would see them as what they are: a real reflection of how the world works.”
Shortly after Prince Philip died on April 9, the BBC cut away from its schedule to broadcast special coverage across its television channels and radio stations for the entire afternoon and night.
As popular shows were taken off the air — including an episode of “EastEnders,” a soap opera that has run since 1985, and the final episode of “MasterChef,” a cooking competition show — the BBC was flooded with expressions of displeasure. To be exact: It received 109,741 complaints, the BBC said on Thursday, making it the most complained-about moment in the BBC’s history.
As Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC has a pre-eminent position in the British media, and its funding from the public via a license fee puts it in a difficult position. It is frequently attacked for being too liberal, and too conservative, while its access to public funding is controlled by the government, currently a Conservative administration.
The BBC tries to reflect the mood of the nation, but recently a fierce debate about the role of the royal family bubbled up after Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.
Too little coverage of tributes to Philip, and the BBC would have run the risk of not showing proper respect for his life. Still, the broadcaster received so many online complaints that it set up a streamlined process — a dedicated online form — for people to register their disappointment about the extent of its coverage.
The BBC said on Thursday that Philip’s death “was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally.” It also said that the decision to alter the schedule had been made with careful consideration, which “reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.”
Two commercial broadcasters took divergent approaches. ITV, like the BBC, reportedly also had a large drop in viewers on April 9 amid its many hours of Prince Philip coverage. Channel 4 had special programming but then aired a popular show, “Gogglebox,” which shows people watching television, at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, the BBC and ITV will both broadcast Philip’s funeral.
There were numerous portrayals of Prince Philip over the course of his long life. Actors including Tobias Menzies, Matt Smith, James Cromwell and Christopher Lee all played the part.
Yet no one ever truly captured the man’s essence onscreen, one of his biographers says.
The reason, said the biographer, Ingrid Seward, author of “Prince Philip Revealed,” is that no members of the public ever had the opportunity to study him closely. As a man accustomed to walking a few paces behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, he remained partly out of view.
Ms. Seward, who has interviewed many members of the royal family, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, began talking to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, in the late 1970s. And some of their early meetings were disasters. “He was rude to me,” she said.
But she eventually formed a clearer view of Philip’s complicated persona — his irascible character, his acerbic wit, his generosity of spirit.
The accuracy and relative merits of film and television portrayals of him evolved along with the public perception of the monarchy, from two television movies based on the courtship between Charles and Diana to Philip’s most recent depiction in “The Crown.”
In “The Crown,” which premiered in 2016, Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies played Philip, and Seward took issue with both portrayals.
“They make him seem grumpy and bored,” she said. “He was never bored. He led a really active, packed, busy life.”
She maintains that Smith in Seasons 1 and 2 didn’t carry himself the way Philip did. “Everyone knows that he walks with his hands behind his back, that he’s got a very military stance, even in his 99th year,” Seward said, adding that this posture made him seem taller than he actually was.
She said Smith’s Philip was too pouty and petulant, even if Philip did struggle to find a role for himself when Elizabeth first became queen.
“Philip does not sulk,” Seward said. “That is so not him.”
She said she found that in Seasons 3 and 4 Menzies offered a more nuanced portrayal of a man in midlife crisis, but that there was no such crisis.
“The moon landing, no, no, no,” Ms. Seward said, referring to the “Moondust” episode, in which Philip becomes obsessed with the Americans’ 1969 moon landing and wallows in feelings of failure because of his own, less-consequential position in life. (Jonathan Pryce will take over the role in Season 5.)
“Once Philip established himself, he was fine,” Ms. Seward said. “He accomplished so much, and he traveled all over the world on his own.”
Nearly four years after an infamous festival that was billed as an ultraluxurious musical getaway in the Bahamas left attendees scrounging for makeshift shelter on a dark beach, a court has decided how much the nightmare was worth: approximately $7,220 apiece.
The $2 million class-action settlement, reached Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York between organizers and 277 ticket holders from the 2017 event, is still subject to final approval, and the amount could ultimately be lower depending on the outcome of Fyre’s bankruptcy case with other creditors.
But Ben Meiselas, a partner at Geragos & Geragos and the lead lawyer representing the ticket holders, said on Thursday that he was happy a resolution had at last been reached.
“Billy went to jail, ticket holders can get some money back, and some very entertaining documentaries were made,” Meiselas said in an email mentioning Billy McFarland, the event’s mastermind. “Now that’s justice.”
is serving a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to wire fraud charges. In 2018, a court ordered him to pay $5 million to two North Carolina residents who spent about $13,000 apiece on VIP packages for the Fyre Festival.
“I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am that we fell short of our goal,” McFarland said in a 2017 statement, though he declined to address specific allegations. “I’m committed to, and working actively to, find a way to make this right, not just for investors but for those who planned to attend.”
The festival, billed as “the cultural experience of the decade,” had been scheduled for two weekends beginning in late April 2017. Ticket buyers, who paid between $1,000 and $12,000 to attend, were promised an exotic island adventure with luxury accommodations, gourmet food, the hottest musical acts and celebrity attendees. Influencers including the models Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid promoted it.
Hulu and Netflix.)
Fyre has attributed its cancellation to a combination of factors, including the weather. But some Fyre employees later said that higher-ups had invented extravagant accommodations like a $400,000 Artist’s Palace ticket package, which included four beds, eight V.I.P. tickets and dinner with a festival performer, just to see if people would buy them. (There was no such palace.) Production crew members stopped being paid as the festival date neared.
Mark Geragos, another lawyer at the firm that represented ticket buyers in Tuesday’s settlement, filed the initial $100 million class-action lawsuit days after the event, which stated that Ja Rule and McFarland had known for months that their festival “was dangerously underequipped and posed a serious danger to anyone in attendance.” McFarland faced a second class-action lawsuit two days later.
A hearing to approve Tuesday’s settlement is set for May 13.
More than a decade ago, Grupo Televisa of Mexico and Univision of the United States, giants in the world of Spanish-language media, set aside years of hostility to strike an alliance. Now, the two companies are deepening their bonds to better compete in the streaming era.
Televisa agreed on Tuesday to sell its media, content and production assets to Univision for $4.8 billion. The deal includes SoftBank and Google as financial backers.
It is the latest evolution in the ties between Televisa and Univision, whose relationship has been strained at times: They battled in court over Televisa’s attempt to end a 25-year contract with Univision to make telenovelas, crucial programming for the Spanish-language market, settling just before Televisa’s chairman was set to testify.
The two have grown closer in recent years, beginning with a licensing deal in 2010. Televisa, which produces much of the programming that airs on Univision, owns just over a third of the company.
Together, the two companies dominate the Spanish-language broadcast markets in the United States and Mexico. Their traditional business has held up, with Univision’s ratings rising last year, but executives said they believed that creating a dominant streaming service was the future.
There is room for growth: Executives of both companies estimate that just 10 percent of the 600 million viewers in the Spanish-language media market use an online video service, compared with 70 percent of the English-speaking population.
But competing with services like Netflix required much bigger scale, prompting the two companies to consolidate further. The new business, to be called Televisa-Univision, will have an enormous content library — Televisa produced 86,000 hours of programming last year — broadcast and pay-TV channels and stations and a movie studio. The new business will also control the two companies’ online video services, PrendeTV and Blim.
“We had to gain scale and unify the media rights to compete against the giants,” Bernardo Gómez Martínez, one of Televisa’s co-chief executives, said in an interview.
The executives said that beyond the sheer amount of resources Televisa-Univision will have, the new company also has an advantage that others like Netflix do not: a foundation in the Spanish-language market.
“Those companies are first and foremost English-language companies,” said Wade Davis, Univision’s chief executive. “At the core of it, their core offering is not Spanish language first.”
As part of the deal, Univision and Televisa are bringing in $1 billion in new investment to their venture. Among the investors are SoftBank’s Latin America Fund, Google and the investment firm Raine Group.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year, pending approval by regulators in the United States and Mexico and by Televisa’s shareholders.