Warren Buffett Fights Proposals on Climate and Diversity

Tomorrow is Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting, the gathering known as “Woodstock for capitalists.” Like last year, the company is bowing to the times by holding the meeting virtually. But another aspect of the discussion may show that Warren Buffett is increasingly out of step with the times, DealBook’s Michael de la Merced reports.

Investors are pressing Berkshire to disclose more about climate change and work-force diversity. Shareholders, including the Calpers public pension fund, argue that Buffett’s conglomerate isn’t doing enough to disclose its portfolio companies’ progress in addressing those issues. Buffett opposed these initiatives ahead of the meeting, arguing that they cut against Berkshire’s philosophy of letting its subsidiaries operate largely independently. “I don’t believe in imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses,” he said at Berkshire’s 2018 annual meeting.

Buffett is expected to get his way, for now. He controls over a third of Berkshire’s voting power and holds sway over faithful retail investors, virtually guaranteeing that the proposals will fail to pass.

  • Simiso Nzima, the head of corporate governance at Calpers, points out that the S.E.C. appears inclined to force more disclosure on climate change risks anyway.

The big question is whether this will tarnish Berkshire’s golden reputation. Corporate America is increasingly heeding investor demands — including from BlackRock, a major Berkshire shareholder — to do more to fight climate change and racial inequity. Berkshire does not dispute the importance of climate change and diversity, but Buffett’s pushback here risks denting his standing as perhaps the world’s most admired investor. “I don’t think at the moment there’s been a slip in the gold standard,” said Lawrence Cunningham, a professor at George Washington University and a Berkshire shareholder, “but if it’s not tended to, there might be.”

Big Tech finishes earnings season on a strong note. Amazon’s first-quarter earnings more than tripled — yes, tripled — to $8 billion, surpassing expectations. As our colleague Shira Ovide writes, the quarter showed that tech giants are “unquestioned winners of the pandemic economy.”

announced today that an E.U. investigation found that the iPhone maker abused its control over its App Store to charge its music-streaming rival more in fees.

A big day in New York City: July 1. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would fully reopen by that day. But officials concede that tourism won’t fully return to prepandemic levels for years, and employers have been largely targeting the fall for bringing workers back to offices.

The head of the Credit Suisse board’s risk committee steps down. Andreas Gottschling won’t stand for re-election. He is the latest official at the Swiss bank to exit following scandals at Greensill and Archegos.

Good and bad news for AstraZeneca. The drug maker beat expectations for earnings and sales growth, but it is struggling to compile the data requested by U.S. officials to have its Covid-19 vaccine approved by the F.D.A., The Wall Street Journal reported.

given the Tesla chief’s history with the S.E.C.

“No.”


— Whitley Collins of CBRE on how the pandemic has upended the commercial real estate market, reversing the trend of “more and more dense” office spaces.


Marty Walsh, the labor secretary, said yesterday that “in a lot of cases” gig workers in the U.S. should be classified as employees, not independent contractors. “In some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not, and I think it has to be consistent across the board,” he told Reuters. Shares of Uber, Lyft, Fiverr and DoorDash fell on the news.

But how much control does Walsh have over how companies classify their employees?

There’s no single law that makes workers employees or contractors. The Labor Department can enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes the federal minimum wage and overtime pay. This only applies to employees, and who should fall into that category has been the subject of a long-running debate.

New guidance wouldn’t change the law. But it could change how the Labor Department decides whether to bring lawsuits against gig economy companies. “It’s implicitly a sign to employers that you should comply with this interpretation or there’s a risk of enforcement,” Brian Chen, a staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, told DealBook. The guidance is nonbinding, but Benjamin Sachs, a professor at Harvard Law School, said courts “tend to give it deference” when making decisions. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw specific action coming from the department sometime this year,” said William Gould, a Stanford law professor and the former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.


In Her Words newsletter, explains why promising G.D.P. numbers aren’t the end of the story.

“A boom-like year” is how one economist described what the U.S. economy might look like in 2021. The latest data, published yesterday, showed that G.D.P. grew at a robust 6.4 percent annualized rate in the first quarter.

While the headline numbers may at first glance suggest that America’s economic health is on track for a full recovery, a closer look reveals an economy that is “profoundly unequal across sectors, unbalanced in ways that have enormous long-term implications,” as The Times’s Neil Irwin put it.

Growth has been fueled by consumer spending on goods, while the services sector has yet to recover. Services account for more than 95 percent of the jobs held by women, according to Michael Madowitz, an economist at the Center for American Progress.

“I’m a little worried we’re too confident the service job losses are just going to spring back to life,” Madowitz said. “If nobody closed a business that might be fine, but that seems unlikely.”

Roughly two million women have left the work force since last February. G.D.P. does not account for their lost productivity and earnings, nor for the hours of work at home that women shouldered in the past year, uncompensated.


from a sinking ship to a success proves that putting purpose first is good for profits. Joly spoke to DealBook about “The Heart of Business,” which is out next week.

Why did you write a book?

So much of what I learned in business school is either wrong, dated or incomplete. We urgently need a new philosophy of business and capitalism, a refoundation around purpose and humanity. There’s no going back after the pandemic. We’ve seen each others’ homes and vulnerability. We need to make a declaration of interdependence.

Isn’t pursuing profits the point?

Milton Friedman is on my “most wanted” list. People who oppose stakeholder capitalism are mistaken. We can create better economic outcomes by connecting with employees, customers, communities and the planet. People should refuse zero-sum games. The book is a practical guide for leaders who are eager to abandon the old way.

And it’s also spiritual?

Yes. Because work is fundamental. We should ask ourselves why we work, what drives us. At Best Buy, before the holiday season, we’d gather — even though it’s a very busy time — to talk about what gives people energy, what matters. Magic happens when work is connected to meaning and individual genius, to the thing that’s good or beautiful in each of us.

How does this “magic” manifest itself?

Two Best Buy employees performed pretend “surgery” on a broken dinosaur toy behind the counter and gave a boy back a new item, saying his baby dino recovered. That had to come from the heart. They could have just sent his mother to the shelf. Leaders need to use their heads and hearts and see and hear employees and give people the freedom to make work meaningful.

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Finland Is Again the World’s Happiest Country, Report Finds

In Finland, a relatively egalitarian society, people tend not to be fixated on “keeping up with the Joneses.”

“People often do pretty well in social comparison,” said Antti Kauppinen, a philosophy professor at the University of Helsinki. “This starts from education; everybody has access to good education. Income and wealth differences are relatively small.”

David Pfister, an architect from Austria who lives in Oulunkyla, a suburb of Helsinki, said that he would describe Finns as content, but that it was hard to say if they were happy. “The baby has increased our happiness,” said his wife, Veera Yliniemi, a teacher. Another man in the same suburb, Janne Berliini, 49, said he was happy enough. “I have work,” he said. “The basic things are in order.”

People in Finland also tend to have realistic expectations for their lives. But when something in life does exceed expectations, people will often act with humility, preferring a self-deprecating joke over bragging, said Sari Poyhonen, a linguistics professor at the University of Jyvaskyla. Finns, she said, are pros at keeping their happiness a secret.

The report this year received little attention in the Finnish news media. “Finland is still the happiest country in the world,” began a short article that ran on Page 19 in Ilta-Sanomat, a daily newspaper.

All of the countries that ranked in the top 10 — including the four other Nordic countries — have different political philosophies than in the United States, No. 14 on the list, behind Ireland and ahead of Canada. Lower levels of happiness in the United States could be driven by social conflict, drug addiction, lack of access to health care and income inequality, Dr. Wang said.

Things in Finland are far from perfect. Like other parts of the continent, far-right nationalism is on the rise, and unemployment is 8.1 percent, higher than the average unemployment rate of 7.5 percent in the European Union.

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Shirley Williams, Breakaway Political Force in Britain, Dies at 90

LONDON — Shirley Williams, a pioneering British lawmaker and former cabinet member who broke from the Labour Party in the 1980s to help found a centrist movement that briefly promised to upend British politics, died on Monday at her home in England. She was 90.

Her death was announced by one of the parties she had helped establish, the Liberal Democrats. No other details were provided.

Charismatic and principled, Ms. Williams was long a force in British politics, serving in senior positions in a male-dominated Parliament and rising to cabinet ministerial posts. Many lawmakers have cited her career as an inspiration. Mark Peel, author of “Shirley Williams: The Biography,” said in an interview, “She gave politics a very good name.”

In 1981, concerned that the Labour Party was veering too far to the left, Ms. Williams and three other senior Labour lawmakers, known as the Gang of Four, founded the more centrist Social Democratic Party. It then formed an alliance with the old centrist Liberal Party and attracted a surge of support.

“Testament of Youth,” in which she described losing her fiancé, brother and two close male friends in the fighting, is widely considered a classic.

to chair the Labour Club there, in 1950. At Oxford she studied politics, economics and philosophy and acted in drama productions. She later won a Fulbright scholarship to study American trade unions at Columbia University.

Returning to Britain, she took up journalism, working for The Daily Mirror and The Financial Times. But she also kept her eyes on a political career, running unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate for Parliament in the 1950s before winning a seat in 1964, from the town of Hitchin, in southern England.

She quickly climbed the ranks, becoming minister for education and science in the Labour governments of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the ’60s. After the 1970 general election, when Labour lost power, she served as Labour’s spokeswoman on home affairs. In subsequent Labour governments in the ’70s she served as a trade secretary and then secretary of education under Prime Minister James Callaghan.

Roy Jenkins, David Owen and Bill Rodgers — announced the formation of the centrist Social Democratic Party in January 1981.

“She was not somebody who liked taking orders from party whips or party machines,” Mr. Peel said. “She was in many ways a free spirit, an individual who did her own thing.”

At a time when few women had climbed to senior positions in politics, Ms. Williams faced extra challenges. She spoke in a 1979 interview about the difficulties of balancing domestic life with her parliamentary duties. Women, she observed, “have the business of trying to keep two lives going.”

She later said that the political demands on her time led in part to the annulment of her first marriage, to the philosopher Bernard Williams, whom she married in 1955 and with whom she had a daughter, Rebecca, her only immediate survivor. Mr. Williams died in 2003. Ms. Williams married the American historian and presidential adviser Richard E. Neustadt in 1987. He also died in 2003.

After forming the Social Democrats in 1981, Ms. Williams won the party’s first parliamentary seat that year, in Crosby, in northwestern England, taking it from the Conservatives. But she lost the seat in the disastrous 1983 general election.

Sky News interview.

In her final speech in the House of Lords, Ms. Williams reminded her colleagues that Britain had a tradition of leadership that was “not just national but global — where we are part of a larger group of human beings seeking a better world and a better life.”

“I think it would be a tragedy if the country gave up that kind of leadership,” she said.

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United Rentals to Acquire General Finance Corporation

STAMFORD, Conn. & PASADENA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI) (“United Rentals” or “the company”) and General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ: GFN) (“General Finance”) today announced their entry into a definitive agreement under which United Rentals will acquire General Finance for $19 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $996 million, including the assumption of $400 million of net debt. The transaction is expected to be accretive to EPS and free cash flow upon close.

General Finance, which operates as Pac-Van and Container King in the U.S. and Canada, and as Royal Wolf in Australia and New Zealand, is a leading provider of mobile storage and modular office space. Its network of 106 branches and over 900 employees serves diverse end markets, including construction, commercial, industrial, retail, transportation, petrochemical, consumer, natural resources, governmental and education.

As of December 31, 2020, on a trailing 12-month basis, General Finance generated $94 million of adjusted EBITDA on $346 million of total revenue, translating to a 27.2% adjusted EBITDA margin. As of March 31, 2021, General Finance’s rental fleet consisted of approximately 100,000 units at an original cost of approximately $639 million.

The boards of directors of United Rentals and General Finance unanimously approved the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration or early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and other regulatory approvals. United Rentals intends to commence a tender offer by April 26, 2021, to acquire all of the outstanding shares of GFN common stock for $19 per share in cash. Following completion of the tender offer, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Rentals will merge with and into General Finance and shares of General Finance common stock that have not been tendered and purchased in the tender offer will be converted into the right to receive $19 per share in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021. The company plans to update its 2021 financial outlook to reflect the combined operations following the completion of the transaction.

Strong Strategic Rationale

Robust Financial Drivers

CEO Comments

Matthew Flannery, president and chief executive officer of United Rentals, said, “Our acquisition of General Finance will be a significant opportunity for us to further differentiate our value in the eyes of our customers, while providing attractive, long-term returns for our shareholders. We see strong growth potential from this combination, including our ability cross-sell mobile storage and office solutions to our customers. Our expansion into this space comfortably checks all three boxes of our M&A criteria — strategic rationale, financial impact and cultural fit.”

Flannery continued, “We’re confident the time is right to reengage in M&A with this highly strategic combination, as our end markets recover from the challenges of 2020. General Finance is a customer-focused organization with excellent field operators and specialized expertise that complements our own. We look forward to welcoming our new employees and customers as an important part of our future.”

Jody Miller, chief executive officer of General Finance, commented, “Our combination with United Rentals — the industry leader in equipment rentals — is a strong outcome for everyone involved. Our customers will benefit from United’s extensive solutions and geographic footprint, and our employees will have new opportunities as part of the largest rental team in the world.”

Key Acquisition and Transaction Statistics

Financial information in $ millions

Purchase Price

 

$

996

Present Value of Acquired Tax Assets

 

$

19

Total Revenue (full-year calendar 2020)

 

$

346

Adjusted EBITDA (full-year calendar 2020)

 

$

94

Estimated Annualized Cost Synergies Achieved by End of Year Two

 

$

17

Estimated Annualized Cross-selling Benefits Achieved by End of Year Three

 

$

65

Original Equipment Cost of Fleet

 

$

639

Number of Rental Units

 

 

~100,000

Employees

 

 

~930

Rental Branches

 

 

106

Customers

 

 

~50,000

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP acted as United Rentals’ legal advisor in the transaction, and Morrison and Foerster LLP acted as General Finance’s legal advisor.

Conference Call

United Rentals will hold a conference call tomorrow, April 16, 2021, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The conference call number is (855) 458-4217 (international: (574) 990-3618). The replay of the call can be accessed at (404) 537-3406, passcode 7279967.

Non-GAAP Measures

General Finance’s adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure as defined under the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission. United Rentals believes that this non-GAAP financial measure provides useful information about the proposed transaction; however, it should not be considered as an alternative to GAAP net income. A reconciliation between General Finance’s adjusted EBITDA and GAAP net income, as well as other financial data, is provided in the investor presentation available on the company’s website.

About United Rentals

United Rentals, Inc. is the largest equipment rental company in the world. The company has an integrated network of 1,154 rental locations in North America and 11 in Europe. In North America, the company operates in 49 states and every Canadian province. The company’s approximately 18,250 employees serve construction and industrial customers, utilities, municipalities, homeowners and others. The company offers approximately 4,000 classes of equipment for rent with a total original cost of $13.78 billion. United Rentals is a member of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, the Barron’s 400 Index and the Russell 3000 Index® and is headquartered in Stamford, Conn. Additional information about United Rentals is available at unitedrentals.com.

About General Finance Corporation

Headquartered in Pasadena, California, General Finance Corporation (NASDAQ: GFN) is a leading specialty rental services company offering portable storage, modular space and liquid containment solutions. General Finance’s North America operations consist of wholly-owned subsidiaries Pac-Van, Inc., a leading provider of portable storage and office containers, mobile offices and modular buildings; and Lone Star Tank Rental Inc., a provider of liquid storage tank containers. Additionally, General Finance has wholly-owned subsidiaries Royal Wolf, a leading lessor of portable storage solutions in Australia and New Zealand; and Southern Frac, LLC, a manufacturer of portable liquid storage tank containers in North America and, under the trade name Southern Fabrication Specialties, other steel products.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, known as the PSLRA. Forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current plans, estimates and projections, and, therefore, you should not place undue reliance on them. No forward-looking statement, including any such statement concerning the completion and anticipated benefits of the proposed transaction, can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but rather are based on current expectations, estimates, assumptions and projections about the business and future financial results of the equipment rental industries, and other legal, regulatory and economic developments. United Rentals and General Finance use words such as “anticipates,” “believes,” “plans,” “expects,” “projects,” “future,” “intends,” “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” “guidance” and similar expressions to identify these forward-looking statements that are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the PSLRA. Actual results could differ materially from the results contemplated by these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, those described in the SEC reports filed by United Rentals and General Finance, as well as the possibility that (1) United Rentals may be unable to obtain regulatory approvals required for the proposed transaction or may be required to accept conditions that could reduce the anticipated benefits of the acquisition as a condition to obtaining regulatory approvals; (2) the length of time necessary to consummate the proposed transaction may be longer than anticipated; (3) problems may arise in successfully integrating the businesses of United Rentals and General Finance, including, without limitation, problems associated with the potential loss of any key employees of General Finance; (4) the proposed transaction may involve unexpected costs, including, without limitation, the exposure to any unrecorded liabilities or unidentified issues that United Rentals failed to discover during the due diligence investigation of General Finance or that are not covered by insurance, as well as potential unfavorable accounting treatment and unexpected increases in taxes; (5) United Rentals’ business may suffer as a result of uncertainty surrounding the proposed transaction, any adverse effects on our ability to maintain relationships with customers, employees and suppliers, or the inherent risk associated with entering a geographic area or line of business in which United Rentals has no or limited experience; and (6) the industry may be subject to future risks that are described in the “Risk Factors” section of the Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other documents filed from time to time with the SEC by United Rentals and General Finance. United Rentals and General Finance give no assurance that they will achieve their expectations and do not assume any responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements.

The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties that affect the businesses of United Rentals and General Finance described in the “Risk Factors” section of the Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other documents filed from time to time with the SEC by United Rentals and General Finance. This press release is not intended to be a recommendation to buy, sell or hold securities and does not constitute an offer for the sale of, or the solicitation of an offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction, including the United States. Any such offer will only be made by means of a prospectus or offering memorandum, and in compliance with applicable securities laws. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. United Rentals and General Finance undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

Additional Information and Where to Find It

This press release is for informational purposes only and is neither an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell securities. The tender offer described in this press release has not commenced. At the time the tender offer is commenced, United Rentals will file, or will cause to be filed, tender offer materials on Schedule TO with the SEC and General Finance will file a Solicitation/Recommendation Statement on Schedule 14D-9 with the SEC, in each case with respect to the tender offer. The tender offer materials (including an offer to purchase, a related letter of transmittal and other offer documents) and the solicitation/recommendation statement will contain important information that should be read carefully when they become available and considered before any decision is made with respect to the tender offer. Those materials and all other documents filed by, or caused to be filed by, United Rentals and General Finance with the SEC will be available at no charge on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. The tender offer materials and related materials also may be obtained for free (when available) under the “Our Company—Investor Relations—SEC Filings” section of United Rental’s website at https://unitedrentals.gcs-web.com/sec-filings, and the Solicitation/Recommendation Statement and such other documents also may be obtained for free (when available) from General Finance under the “Investor Information—SEC Information” section of General Finance’s website at https://generalfinance.com/sec-information/.

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How Do You Write an Anthony Bourdain Book Without Anthony Bourdain?

Over the course of the book, Ms. Woolever never makes the claim that the guide is comprehensive — and the end result does feel incomplete and unbalanced. The countries of Ghana, Ireland and Lebanon get three pages apiece; the United States gets nearly 100. There is a chapter on Macau, but nothing on Indonesia or Thailand. These are somewhat predictable shortcomings, dependent as the book is on voice-over transcripts spanning decades and the impossible task of stringing them together across time.

Some of the inclusions feel at odds with Mr. Bourdain’s avoid-the-tourists approach to travel, as well. In the Tokyo section, recommendations include the Park Hyatt hotel (made famous by “Lost in Translation,”); Sukiyabashi Jiro, the restaurant at the center of the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”; the bizarre kitsch-fest that is the Robot Restaurant; and a bar in the tourist-clogged Golden Gai neighborhood. These may be all appealing attractions to a first-timer in Tokyo, but there is nothing in that selection that you wouldn’t find at the top of an algorithm-generated TripAdvisor list.

When I asked Ms. Woolever about these recommendations, she agreed they were perhaps obvious choices, but said Mr. Bourdain wanted to include them because of how much they meant to him, after so many visits to the city. “He wasn’t always (or, arguably, ever) about cool for cool’s sake, or obscurity as its own reward,” she said in an email.

If it’s a guide they are after though, travelers may be left wanting. In Cambodia, you get recommendations for three hotels, two markets for dining and a suggestion to check out the temples of Angkor Wat, the country’s most famous attraction by a long shot. It isn’t exactly the list of hole-in-the-wall spots with no addresses that fans of Mr. Bourdain may be hoping for. What those fans will find though is Mr. Bourdain’s word-for-word rant against American military involvement in Cambodia (“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.”) Having those passages — the no-holds-barred monologues that were a hallmark of his television shows — in one place might be the book’s greatest strength.

Over the decades that Mr. Bourdain spent traveling the world, there was a lot of talk of the “Bourdain Effect”: how a culinary gem, previously only frequented by those in the know, could be “ruined” by being included in his show. When I asked Ms. Woolever whether she thought this book could amplify that effect, she emphasized that most business owners knew what they were in for when approached by producers. “People call it the ‘Bourdain Effect,’ but Tony didn’t invent it,” she said. “It’s something that business owners have to weigh out for themselves.”

As I read the book, I was thinking of a different Bourdain Effect, one that feels more vital than ever right now, as travel begins to take its first baby steps back after a year of lockdowns. Seeing so much of Anthony Bourdain’s work in one place and being able to compare his impressions country-by-country in a tightly packed medium, makes it easier to see what he stood for. A traveling philosophy emerges: his utter disdain for stereotypes, his undying commitment to challenging his own preconceptions, his humility in the face of generosity.

Because of tragic circumstances following its inception, “World Travel” may feel more like an anthology of greatest hits than a new, original guidebook. But read cover to cover, country by country, it is an enduring embodiment of Anthony Bourdain’s love for the whole world and a reminder of how to stack our priorities the next time we’re able to follow in his footsteps.

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The Watch Industry Lacks Transparency. That Is Changing.

The Swiss have long had a reputation for being discreet when it comes to business. (Think banks). And their watch industry is no different.

But growing pressure for environmental and ethical accountability — from activists, investors and consumers — has convinced a few brands that it is time to reveal where they obtain some of their raw materials.

They are fighting the industry’s deep-rooted tradition of discretion, a practice born of watchmakers’ fear that identifying suppliers will reveal details of their expertise and give rivals an advantage.

Many, however, are secretive for a very different reason: They are reluctant to admit their “Swiss Made” watches contain numerous components manufactured in China. These aren’t legal concerns: Swiss law dictates that at least 60 percent of the manufacturing costs of a product must be incurred in the country for it to qualify for the label.

the pandemic and digital growth, a new generation of chief executives, public pressure — to rethink long-established notions about the way they do business, including the value of collaborating with other watchmakers.

where brands get their gold and how they produce their timepieces, more available. Some watchmakers are even going out of their way to share it.

During the virtual Watches and Wonders fair in Geneva that began April 7, for example, Panerai introduced the Submersible eLAB-ID, a 44-millimeter wristwatch built almost entirely from reused raw materials, including recycled Super-LumiNova on its hands, recycled silicon in its movement escapement and a recycled titanium alloy known as EcoTitanium on its case, sandwich dial and bridges.

In a news release, the brand named the nine companies that worked on the timepiece, which will remain a one-of-a-kind concept watch until 2022, when Panerai plans to release a limited edition of 30 pieces, each tentatively priced at around 60,000 euros ($70,530). “We would love to be copied and improved upon,” Jean-Marc Pontroué, Panerai’s chief executive, said during a video interview last month.

a reputation for transparency and activism in a sector not known for either quality.

Kering has gone this way, at least in part, because it has an eye on what its buyers — and potential future buyers — want.

“All over the world,” Marie-Claire Daveu, Kering’s chief sustainability officer, said on a video call last month, “you have millennials and Gen Z [customers] asking more questions and wanting more answers with more details.”

Claudio D’Amore, a watch designer based in Lausanne, is one of the few Swiss watch executives to welcome such scrutiny. In 2016, he created a crowdfunded brand called the Goldgena Project, later renamed Code41, whose radical approach to transparency was a response to the industry’s long-simmering debate over the Swiss Made label.

table that lists all the components and processes that went into its latest crowdfunded timepiece, the NB24 Chronograph, along with their prices and origins. For instance, the watch’s Swiss-made movement cost the company $1,056 (including taxes), while the titanium case, dial and packaging — manufactured in China — cost $167, $56 and $22. In total, the watch cost $1,474 to produce.

Below the table, the brand explained that it arrived at a retail price of $3,500 by adding what it called a “minimal markup” for profitability.

sustainability report — what’s new is how easy it will be to access online, a spokeswoman said.

Chopard is another high-profile watchmaker striving to make its business more transparent. In late February, the Geneva-based brand updated its website with more information about its raw materials, including gold from the Barequeros, a community of artisanal miners in the Chocó region on Colombia’s Pacific coast. It also posted its Code of Conduct for Partners for the first time.

And yet Juliane Kippenberg, a Berlin-based expert on mineral supply chains at Human Rights Watch, says these measures still fall short of what other sectors, such as the garment industry, are doing to implement transparency, particularly on the complex topic of gold sourcing.

“Big companies like Adidas and H&M release Excel spreadsheets where they list the names of the garment factories where their products are being made,” Ms. Kippenberg said. “But in this sector, there’s far more reluctance to do that.” (Of course, those companies aren’t immune to controversy, either; H&M for example, is embroiled in one over its cotton sourcing.)

That hesitancy may be because many watchmakers are still wary of transparency’s threatening implications for their intellectual property.

“Part of our know-how is the know and the how — why would you share it?” said Wilhelm Schmid, chief executive of A. Lange & Söhne, a prestige watchmaker based in the German city of Glashütte.

Swiss voters rejected the Responsible Business Initiative, a proposal by a civil society coalition that would have required Swiss companies to conduct due diligence on human rights and environmental risks throughout their supply chains, and publicize their reports. But a counterproposal from the Swiss Parliament that would require companies to ensure the traceability of their supply chains, and make their reports publicly available for 10 years, is expected to become law in 2022.

That means even the notoriously tight-lipped Rolex, the world’s biggest brand by sales — a Morgan Stanley report on Swiss watches published last month found that the company now has an estimated market share of 26.8 percent — will need to make its business more transparent.

“They can’t claim they’re a private company because no one’s asking for their trade secrets,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the New York City-based Luxury Institute. “They will have to answer. There’s no place to hide.”

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