DealBook Briefing: The Top SoftBank Heads for Saudis


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Masayoshi Son, C.E.O. of SoftBank, finally spoke today against the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi. But he added that his company would not distance itself from Saudi Arabia – the biggest investor in its Vision Fund of nearly $ 100 billion.

From the FT report on SoftBank's earnings, call:

"We accept funds from the people of Saudi Arabia that will be crucial to diversify the economy, so that it is not dependent solely on oil," said Son, at the beginning of a earnings conference in Tokyo.

"It is true that this was a tragic affair, but we also have a responsibility that we must defend for the future of the people in Saudi Arabia."

SoftBank is trying to establish a thin line between criticizing the Saudi government, which has been accused of orchestrating Khashoggi's death and losing support. Given the importance of the Vision Fund to SoftBank, Mr. Son may feel he has no choice.

He is not alone. Large consulting firms, such as McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group, had contracts with Saudi Arabia. And Larry Fink of BlackRock told DealBook last week that doing business with the Saudis "is not something I'm ashamed of."

The company is approaching a decision on a location for its second headquarters. The WSJ reports that Amazon is discussing fine details with "a small handful of communities," including Crystal City, Virginia; Dallas; and New York. The WaPo suggests that Crystal City "is a favorite."

There may be a kind of consolation prize for the exploiters: Laura Stevens, Scott Calvert and Tawnell D. Hobbs of the WSJ, write that "some also believe that Amazon can announce plans to put smaller operations into second place."

Amazon itself has said little about the lawsuit, although it has said a ruling will come before the end of the year. Unidentified sources told the WSJ and WaPo that a decision could be made public as early as this month.

More news from the Amazon: A senior executive is unhappy with leaks over HQ2, tweeting that the informant should "stop treating N.D.A. you signed it as a used napkin. " Some booksellers are boycotting a service owned by Amazon. And two workers died at a warehouse in Baltimore.

Fed policymakers hold their penultimate meeting in 2018. Analysts do not expect a rate hike or forecast of changes, but expect an indication that the Fed would raise rates by an additional 25 basis points in December. That would be the fourth increase of the year, and probably President Trump.

The Institute for Supply Management will release non-production figures. Economists expect non-manufacturing activity to have dropped slightly in October, with a September boost likely fueled by tariff preparations that came into effect that month.


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