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Hasbro fends off Texas investment firm in proxy battle

Signage on a Hasbro Inc. Twister brand game box.Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Hasbro fends off Texas investment firm in proxy battle

Toy and game company Hasbro has emerged victorious in a proxy battle against one of its biggest shareholders, Texas investment firm Alta Fox Capital Management. Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro disclosed the preliminary results of its proxy votes on Wednesday, to coincide with its annual meeting, and said all 13 of its board members have been reelected “with a substantial margin” by shareholders. Alta Fox initially tried to get its own slate of five candidates on the Hasbro board, as part of an effort to push Hasbro to consider spinning off its Wizards of the Coast division, which includes its popular Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering fantasy games. Over the course of the spring, Alta Fox pared its slate back to three, and then finally to one candidate, IDT Corp. chief financial officer Marcelo Fischer. Alta Fox had argued that Hasbro had become too insular and unwilling to listen to shareholders with different perspectives and that it had overpaid significantly to buy the eOne production studio for about $4 billion in 2019; several other shareholders ended up agreeing with some of Alta Fox’s points. But the two main shareholder advisory firms, Glass Lewis and ISS, did not back any of Alta Fox’s candidates, although ISS did say shareholders could consider withholding votes for Ted Philip, Hasbro’s longest-serving board member, to send a message to the board about the need for change. Hasbro told shareholders after the vote: “We know we have important work ahead of us, and you will be hearing from us as we continue to actively engage with our shareholders.” ― JON CHESTO

TRADE

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Yellen says administration wants to ‘reconfigure’ tariffs on China

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the Biden administration is looking to “reconfigure” tariffs imposed on Chinese goods under former president Donald Trump to make them more “strategic.” “This administration inherited a set of 301 tariffs imposed by the Trump administration that I think really weren’t designed to serve our strategic interests,” Yellen told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Wednesday. While China is guilty of unfair trade practices and the United States should be acting to protect its national-security interests, some of the existing tariffs have hurt American consumers and businesses, she said. President Biden’s team is weighing what to do with Trump’s tariffs on about $300 billion of goods imported from the US economy’s biggest rival. While some businesses have benefited from the tariffs protecting them from Chinese import competition, companies that use the goods as inputs in areas including manufacturing have been hurt. Yellen wouldn’t give a timeline beyond saying changes may come in the “coming weeks.” ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter will reportedly provide Musk with raw daily tweet data

Twitter plans to offer Elon Musk access to its “firehose” of raw data on hundreds of millions of daily tweets in an effort to push forward the Tesla billionaire’s agreed-to $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform, according to multiple news reports. Lawyers involved in the deal would not confirm the data-sharing agreement. Musk made no comment on Twitter, although he has previously been vocal about various aspects of the deal. Twitter declined to confirm the reports and pointed to a Monday statement in which the company said it is continuing to “cooperatively” share information with Musk, who struck a legally binding agreement to buy Twitter in April. He contends that the deal can’t proceed unless the company provides more information about the prevalence of fake accounts on its platform. He has argued, without presenting evidence, that Twitter has significantly underestimated the number of these “spam bots” — automated accounts that typically promote scams and misinformation — on its service. The Washington Post first reported Twitter’s plan to provide Musk with full access to the firehose, citing a person familiar with the matter. Other reports suggested the billionaire might only receive partial access. Twitter’s reported offer could blunt Musk’s attempts to use the spam bot issue to cast doubt on the deal’s future. ― ASSOCIATED PRESS

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TECHNOLOGY

Meta faces lawsuits over influence of algorithms on young people

Meta Platforms Inc. is now a leader in another social media trend ― lawsuits claiming the company built algorithms in its platforms that lure young people into destructive addiction. Eight complaints filed in courthouses across the United States over the last week allege that excessive exposure to platforms including Facebook and Instagram has led to attempted or actual suicides, eating disorders, and sleeplessness, among other issues. The complaints add to a spurt of recent cases against Meta and Snap Inc., including some filed by parents whose children took their own lives. The litigation follows a former Facebook employee’s high-profile testimony in Congress that the company refused to take responsibility for harming the mental health of its youngest users. A Meta spokesperson declined to comment on the litigation but noted that the company has developed tools for parents to keep track of their children’s activity on Instagram and set time limits. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ECONOMY

Uber’s CEO says company is ‘recession resistant,’ sees no job cuts

Uber Technologies Inc. chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is “recession resistant” and doesn’t see a need for job cuts, even as market volatility and the prospect of a global recession loom over technology companies. “The signal on the street is things are really strong and the spend on services continues to be quite robust,” Khosrowshahi said during an interview Wednesday at the Bloomberg Technology Summit. The optimistic tone comes after Khosrowshahi told staff in May that the ride-hailing giant would “treat hiring as a privilege and be deliberate about when and where we add headcount.” Rival Lyft Inc. also said it plans to significantly slow hiring and cut costs. The global economic uncertainty has added a further challenge for Uber’s ride-hailing business, which cratered during the beginning of the pandemic. Unlike Lyft, Uber was able to rely on its food delivery unit, which tripled as home-bound customers ordered more takeout. Restaurant delivery has been largely resilient even as indoor dining has resumed in a boon for Uber Eats and competitor DoorDash Inc. As Khosrowshahi steers the company through the pandemic, a key strategy has been to capitalize on the boom in delivery by expanding into other categories like convenience-store items, alcohol, and grocery, and turning the Uber rides app into much more than just ride-sharing. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

FINANCE

State Street says it won’t respond to blog report of Credit Suisse bid

State Street Corp. fell the most in almost two months after declining to comment on a report it’s looking to acquire Credit Suisse Group AG. “We are not going to respond to an earlier news report,” Boston-based State Street said in an e-mail Wednesday. “As we have previously discussed, we are focused on our pending acquisition of Brown Brothers Harriman’s Investors Services business.” Shares of State Street dropped 5.4 percent to close at $69.04. Earlier Wednesday, Swiss blog Inside Paradeplatz reported that State Street could make a bid for Credit Suisse, citing a single person. Credit Suisse shares rallied on the report, reversing an earlier decline after the Swiss bank warned of a third straight quarterly loss. Kyle Sanders, an analyst at Edward Jones, said a full takeover of Credit Suisse was an unlikely move for State Street and agreed that a more plausible route could be for the firm to acquire just the asset-management division. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS

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