‘A Punch in the Gut’: Toys ‘R’ Us Closings Rattle Nostalgic Customers

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At Toys “R” Us, emotions always seemed to run high.

Wailing tantrums were pitched in the aisles between the Barbies and the Beanie Babies. Allowances were giddily relinquished for Super Soaker water guns. Frantic parents scrambled to snag Tickle Me Elmos.

Patrons were taken by surprise when the chain said it would close or sell all of its American stores.

On Thursday, they eulogized Toys “R” Us as a temple to playtime and worried that toy shopping would now be quietly carried out on a laptop, alone.

Some, waiting in line for stores to open, said they had visited the chain ahead of every holiday season for decades. Many arrived bearing gift cards. One woman got a head start on Christmas shopping, spending $400.

A multigenerational destination

Mary Nicholas of Carthage, Mo., remembered going to the zoo one year when her daughter, Emma, was around 4 years old. At one point, Emma pointed to a giraffe and said, “Look, Mama, it’s Geoffrey” — the chain’s gangly cartoon mascot.

“So, yeah, it’s kind of a punch in the gut for us to see how much online shopping has affected things,” Ms. Nicholas said, lamenting how the digital age is, as she put it, swallowing us whole.

“I’m going to miss the magic,” she said. “I want to cry right now because we had so much fun there.”


The fun of seeing toys in person

Marilyn Tandy lives in a rural part of Jasper County, Mo., and has shopped for at least two generations at the Toys “R” Us store in Joplin.

Her great-granddaughter Brynleigh, 2, enjoys waddling through the aisles and admiring toys. Brynleigh’s mother, Madison Shores, used to do the same.

“That’s the fun of it, taking them and letting them see everything they like,” Ms. Tandy said. “It’s much easier to do that in a store than on a computer.”


Inside a Toys “R” Us in New York on Thursday. More than 30,000 American jobs are at risk as the company winds down.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times
Clarissa More, 6, at the store in Maplewood, Minn., on Thursday. When Clarissa heard that the stores would be closing, she broke down in massive tears, her mother said.CreditJenn Ackerman for The New York Times

A disappearing relic

“I grew up somewhere with lots of toy stores, so it’s going to be weird that there are none left. I’m just trying to show my little guy what it’s like while I still can.”

— Ian Ainslie, who wandered the Toys “R” Us in the Rego Park section of Queens with his 5-month-old son, Kiann, strapped to his chest.


A moment of fame

A professional wrestler who performs under the name Zack Ryder wrote on Twitter about his memories of Toys “R” Us and the WrestleMania XX action figures it sold.

You can find, for now, Zack Ryder memorabilia on Toys “R” Us’s website, where a figure costs $9.99. (On Amazon, it cost $8.37.)


Mitch Pose, a 26-year-old car wash manager, collects toys, mostly Matchbox and Hot Wheels brands, in addition to die-cut cars.CreditJenn Ackerman for The New York Times

A mecca for collectors

Toys “R” Us is a go-to source for affordable toy cars, said Mitch Pose, who owns 6,000 of them.

On Thursday, at the store in Maplewood, Minn., he bought a blue Cadillac DeVille model from the Matchbox brand.

The chain, which he visits once a month, also carries GreenLight and Johnny Lightning brands of collectibles, which Mr. Pose said were in short supply at Walmart and Target stores.

“I’m bummed about it,” he said of the Toys “R” Us closings. “This is hard to find.”

Around noon, the store had a sign on its front door that read, “We are not closing.”

By 1:30 p.m., the sign was gone.


Gillian Dosse with her son, Liam. “There are hardly any big, great toys stores where a kid can just wander,” Ms. Dosse said.CreditJenn Ackerman for The New York Times

The pleasure of waiting

Gillian Dosse of Roseville, Minn., loved Toys “R” Us as a child, and is especially nostalgic about reading the holiday catalogs. She would take a marker to them and circle the toys she wanted. It’s a tradition she taught her 6-year-old son, Liam.

“It was like looking back through a time machine,” she said. “It brings back the simplicity of picking out what you would like and hoping to see it under the tree instead of getting that, at one click of a button, delivered to your doorstep.”


“Toys ‘R’ Us is nostalgia and a big part of American consumerism,” said Scott Bleicher, left, who was at a store in Queens on Thursday with a colleague, Carlo Mantuano.CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

Not necessarily the first choice

“We’re Amazon shoppers for better or worse. I guess we’re part of the problem.”

Scott Bleicher and a colleague needed props for a photo shoot. They ended up at the Rego Park Toys “R” Us — only after hunting around online first.


A home for tantrums

The child bawling for just one more toy was long a fixture of Toys “R” Us stores. That used to be Joe Lotempio, now a bankruptcy lawyer who can buy Lego sets for himself, as he did on Thursday at the store in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Toys ‘R’ Us is the last of the toy stores,” said Mr. Lotempio, who likes to collect action figures and video games. “It’s a little upsetting.”


Ryan Santos, 36, with his son, Remy. “It’s great for kids because you can run around and play with stuff.” Mr. Santos said, “but it’s expensive, unfortunately.”CreditThomas Patterson for The New York Times

The price equation

“Just across the way, the same products are 10, 15, 20 percent cheaper. It’s hard to give them dollars just because of nostalgia.”

Ryan Santos, who took one of his young sons to a Toys “R” Us in Portland, Ore., said from the parking lot, which was also by a Target store.


Reporting was contributed by Christina Capecchi, Ron Feemster, John Hacker, Courtney Sherwood and Zach Wichter.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of a customer at the Toys “R” Us store in Fort Myers, Fla. He is Joe Lotempio, not Jo.

Tiffany Hsu is a breaking news reporter on the Business Desk. Before joining The Times in 2017 she covered economic news for The Los Angeles Times and earned an M.B.A. from Columbia University. @tiffkhsu

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Republicans Find Undoing Bank Rules Is Easier Said Than Done

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Currently, banks with $50 billion or more in assets — a threshold that includes many smaller regional lenders — are treated under the 2010 law as “systemically important.” That designation subjects them to more stringent regulations. The Senate bill would raise that threshold to $250 billion, leaving only a handful of the biggest banks facing the toughest oversight.

The Senate legislation would also exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the so-called Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from making wagers in their own behalf rather than for clients.

President Trump said in a statement that he would sign the Senate bill in its current form. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough for Republicans in the House.

“Why would we look at this product in the Senate as the max that should be done?” asked Representative Bill Huizenga, a Republican from Michigan.

The House passed its own measure to overhaul Dodd-Frank last year, but it was declared dead on arrival in the Senate. Mr. Hensarling, who is retiring next year, said components of that bill must be incorporated in a final package. He cited measures that would make it easier for start-ups to give presentations about their businesses without violating Securities and Exchange Commission rules and that would expand the types of investors who could participate in private corporate fund-raising.

Mr. Hensarling said he expected to gather Republicans and Democrats from both chambers to chart a path forward. He said Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, had promised not to hold a vote on the Senate bill in its current form.

While the banking world welcomed the passage of the Senate bill, they hope the House will take the legislation further in the industry’s direction.

The challenge is that if House Republicans insist on a much more aggressive regulatory rollback, it probably won’t be acceptable to moderate Democrats in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed for passage.

Analysts at the financial services firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods gave the banking bill an 80 percent chance of being passed eventually, although House Republicans could still scuttle it if they overreach.

“It would be the greatest irony if House Republicans wind up killing the bill and doing what Senator Elizabeth Warren could not,” the analysts wrote in a note to clients.

Ms. Warren, an opponent of loosening bank rules, has publicly criticized her Democratic colleagues who supported the Senate legislation. Liberal interest groups, such as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, are planning to unveil online advertisements in the coming days accusing senators who supported the legislation of voting with Wall Street and against working families.

Some Democratic leaders worry that such tactics might endanger the seats of senators up for re-election this year in states that Mr. Trump carried in 2016.

Republicans have been watching the infighting among Democrats with a quiet sense of glee.

And while congressional Republicans are pushing to broaden the Senate legislation, they are shelving some of their previous priorities for the sake of expediency.

Mr. Hensarling, for instance, has long wanted to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Ms. Warren. But on Thursday he signaled that he wouldn’t insist on that being included in the current legislation.

“I vote for a lot of things I’m not comfortable with,” Mr. Hensarling said. “Right now, I’m very happy” with the bureau under Mick Mulvaney, the acting director, who has vowed to soften the agency’s approach to the banking industry.

Mr. Hensarling added: “May he rule forever.”

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Vanessa Trump Files for Divorce From Donald Trump Jr.

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He has stayed in close contact with his father, often defending the Trump administration on Twitter and in interviews on Fox News, and he recently campaigned in Pennsylvania for the Republican candidate in a special election.

The White House special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is examining a June 2016 meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with Russians offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and the president’s role in providing a misleading response to The New York Times last summer for an article about the meeting.

Last month, Vanessa Trump and her mother were hospitalized as a precaution after opening an envelope containing a white powdery substance that was later determined to be cornstarch, police officials said. A Massachusetts man was charged with sending the threatening letter. “No one should ever have to deal with this kind of sickening behavior,” Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter about the episode.

A onetime model with the Wilhelmina agency, Ms. Trump was raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and once dated the actor Leonardo DiCaprio. At the time of their engagement, Mr. Trump accepted a ring from the Bailey Banks & Biddle jewelry store in Short Hills, N.J., in exchange for publicity, recreating his proposal in a New Jersey mall.

The two were married 10 months after Donald J. Trump married the former model Melania Knauss. In an interview last year with The Times, Donald Trump Jr. said a romantic evening with his wife included dinner at home (he likes to cook) and, perhaps, a movie. He tweeted about when his wife “took/dragged” him to see “Fifty Shades Darker.” (He didn’t love it.)

Using her Twitter account with the handle @MrsVanessaTrump, Ms. Trump frequently retweeted her husband’s posts pertaining to family life, many of which include photographs of their weekends in the Catskills. But her tweets about him appeared to stop in June 2017. The last tweet referring to her husband was a family portrait in which she wished the president a happy birthday.

Mr. Trump, who is active on Instagram, has posted mostly photos of him and his children in recent months. The last photograph with his wife was a photo of the family in February, when they were in Palm Beach celebrating a son’s birthday.

The New York Post first reported the divorce filing on Thursday.

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Streaming Soon: A Fight Over AT&T, Time Warner, and the Future of TV

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The Justice Department’s move to block the deal in November took Wall Street and the entertainment industry by surprise. Many executives and lawyers thought President Trump’s administration would usher in a hands-off approach to antitrust enforcement, despite Mr. Trump’s criticism of the deal on the campaign trail.

Photo
Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general in the antitrust division of the Justice Department. The department demanded the sale of certain assets before it would approve a merger of AT&T and Time Warner. Credit Stephen Voss for The New York Times

Instead, the Justice Department, under its antitrust chief Makan Delrahim, moved aggressively, demanding the sale of major parts of the businesses before a deal could go through. AT&T responded by suggesting that Mr. Delrahim’s decision was politically motivated and not based on established antitrust law.

In recent weeks, though, the judge overseeing the case, Richard Leon of the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, has rejected moves by AT&T to inject politics into the arguments.

Unless the two sides settle — and there have been no signs of that happening — the trial is expected to showcase two starkly different visions of the country’s video future. Drama is also in the cards: Executives from AT&T and Time Warner, as well as competing cable, satellite, tech and media firms, are expected to take the stand over the course of several weeks — and possibly reveal details about the inner workings of the industry.

The Justice Department argues that the merged company’s combination of distribution and content would give it too much leverage in negotiations with the rest of the industry. It also says that the new company would demand higher licensing fees from other cable and satellite firms for what the government calls “must-watch” programming. Those higher charges would immediately trickle down to consumers at an estimated cost of 45 cents a month, or a combined $436 million annually for cable and satellite subscribers, the agency said.

The government’s case will be led by Craig Conrath, a plain-spoken and longtime litigator who has worked on merger cases for several administrations. He is expected to argue that if the merger is approved, AT&T and Comcast, a corporation that owns distribution and programming — the same combination that AT&T is seeking — would have the incentive to raise prices for access to their shows. That would hurt other cable companies and online streaming businesses.

Judge Leon oversaw the final approval of Comcast’s merger with NBC Universal in 2011, the deal that added programming to Comcast’s holdings.

“Either important video content will be available through a competitive market to all distributors, including up-and-coming innovators,” the Justice Department said in pretrial filings with the court. “Or it will likely only be available through vertically integrated, well-funded silos.”

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Time Warner’s cable and movie holdings would be paired with AT&T’s mobile and satellite distribution networks to create an entertainment giant. Credit An Rong Xu for The New York Times

AT&T scoffs at the government’s predictions of price increases. And even if the analysis is accurate, the company has said, it would amount to the price of a fancy cup of coffee for each consumer. Contrary to the government’s theory that it would withhold content, AT&T says it wants to make sure its shows and movies are as widely distributed as possible.

Leading AT&T’s defense is Daniel Petrocelli, a Los Angeles-based lawyer with a long track record in high-profile cases but not someone who is considered an antitrust expert. Two decades ago, he won a wrongful death case against O. J. Simpson on behalf of the family of Ron Goldman. In 2006, he lost a case defending Jeffrey Skilling, the chief executive of Enron, of fraud and conspiracy.

Mr. Petrocelli is expected to argue that the government is missing the bigger picture. AT&T says that Silicon Valley companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Google have disrupted the entertainment industry by spending billions of dollars a year on original content and pushing the programming through their own distribution systems. Facebook and Google dominate the market for advertisements that run with those videos.

AT&T argues that a merger with Time Warner would add a new competitor against those giants, instead of reducing competition. AT&T will also promise to work out any contract disputes with cable and satellite companies through a third-party arbitrator, he is expected to argue.

“The new video revolution is defined by the spectacular rise of Netflix, Amazon, Google and other vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer technology companies,” AT&T said in its pretrial brief.

The merger is opposed by several Democratic lawmakers and many consumer groups, who say that AT&T’s control of more than 100 million mobile phone subscriptions gives it unparalleled power. Google, Facebook and Netflix, though mighty, don’t own the pipes that connect people to the internet, they say.

Streaming competition is the “best hope consumers have, but network operators will kill that competition if they are not stopped,” said Mark Cooper, the director of research at the Consumer Federation of America.

Many Wall Street analysts, however, say the government’s intervention in the deal will eventually harm consumers, because it will limit true competitors to the big tech companies.

“The government is about three years behind reality and is defining the marketplace as it was about three years ago,” said Laura Martin, an analyst at Needham & Company.

AT&T had asked for detailed communications logs between the White House and Justice Department staff members, including Mr. Delrahim, a former Trump White House lawyer. Judge Leon rejected those demands, and AT&T ultimately decided to exclude its concerns of potential presidential interference — which it described as “selective enforcement” — from the case.

But even without arguments of political interference entering the trial, many on Wall Street will be looking for clues about the kinds of corporate deals that will pass muster during the Trump administration.

The decision to block a merger between companies that don’t directly compete is rare. Mr. Delrahim has said that one of the common regulatory remedies to prevent anticompetitive behavior in such deals — getting companies to promise they’ll be on their best behavior — is not effective.

That view may ripple across merger and acquisition plans in other sectors, including the drugstore chain CVS’s $69 billion bid for the health insurance provider Aetna — as well as proposed media deals like Disney’s acquisition of Fox and Sinclair Broadcasting’s purchase of Tribune Media. Wall Street analysts expect the results of the trial will determine if more telecom and entertainment companies will pursue ambitious vertical mergers.

“This could direct the future path of the industry,” said Steven Salop, a professor of economics and law at Georgetown University Law School. “If it is permitted, vertical integration will continue.”

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After Equifax Breach, Credit Freeze Provision Comes at a Price

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The new legislation might do more harm than good, Mr. Litt said. For example, it could stop states from requiring that all credit reports be frozen by default — an arrangement that would put consumers in control of who gains access to their data. As it stands, consumers must contact each of the three bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to initiate a freeze. Likewise, they must also contact the bureaus to lift the freeze, which is necessary when applying for a loan or, say, car insurance.

There are also several states where a freeze blocks not just lenders but also insurers and employers from access to your credit files. “Those states would be overridden because this law would only extend to credit checks” from lenders, Mr. Litt added.

Consumers have little choice but to work with Equifax and its peers. Banks and other financial services firms feed consumers’ personal data to the bureaus, which keep files on more than 200 million people. That data is then crunched to calculate personal credit scores.

There is no way to opt out of this system. Mortgage providers, credit card companies, mobile phone providers and others won’t do business with you until they check your credit report at one or all of the big bureaus. If you freeze your file, these companies cannot get to it — and if they cannot get to it, they won’t issue credit. That protects you if thieves obtain your personal information and try to open accounts in your name.

The Consumer Data Industry Association, the credit bureaus’ trade group, did not oppose the language in the Senate bill. The big bureaus do not break out how much they collect in fees for initiating and lifting credit freezes, the association said.

“Consumers in every state will be protected by a strong federal law under this bill,” Francis Creighton, president and chief executive officer of the association, said in a statement.

But consumer advocates do not believe it goes far enough. They would like a law that gave regulators — such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the power to oversee data security at the big credit bureaus, which could include inspections and penalties for poor practices or digital breaches. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, introduced one such bill this year.

Such an approach would be proactive, rather than the currently reactive way of doing things, said Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

“The fundamental premise is you want a regulator to supervise for data security at the credit bureaus and not just, ‘We can take enforcement action after you messed up,” Ms. Wu said. “That is a different way of regulating than suing them after they’ve lost everyone’s data.”

Another bill, introduced by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, would essentially freeze credit reports by default. Anna Laitin, director of financial policy for Consumers Union, said that bill would “stop identity thieves in their tracks by freezing access to credit files unless the consumer gives their consent.”

The current bill’s free freeze provision was viewed as a bargaining chip — a little goody for consumers — in legislation that would roll back some of the banking regulations that were established after the financial crisis a decade ago. But there was also at least one nugget that would be good for the bureaus: A provision to provide free credit monitoring to active-duty members of the military would strip them of the right to take the agencies to court should something go wrong.

It remains to be seen if the House will pass the legislation, which means free credit freezes aren’t guaranteed just yet. If the bill does not move ahead, states will be free to consider their own changes. Some states, for example, are considering legislation that would let consumers place a credit freeze at all three agencies by making a request at just one, Ms. Laitin said.

“State lawmakers pioneered credit freeze protection and have been quicker to take action compared to Congress,” she said. “They should be allowed to continue to innovate so that consumers can more easily protect themselves from identity theft fraud.”

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In the Age of Amazon, Toys ‘R’ Us and Other Bankruptcies Test Private Equity’s Playbook

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Money, too, was tight. Most of its debt, totaling about $5 billion, had not been paid down since the buyout 12 years earlier. It was paying $400 million in interest payments each year.

“This company had a long history of taking on debt and kicking the can down the road for 10 years, and refinancing,” said Douglas M. Foley, a lawyer at McGuireWoods, who is representing a lender in the Toys “R” Us bankruptcy.

With sales falling and debt payments mounting, the company’s lawyer said in September that Toys “R” Us had “too much debt.” It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, seeking to shed some of its debt and reorganize its business.

The company secured new loans to keep operating into the critical holiday selling season and said it would hire hundreds of seasonal workers to help improve customer service. But the holidays were a bust for Toys “R” Us, even as other retailers reported strong sales. On Thursday, the company said that its earnings during the important shopping season were $250 million less than expected.

The lenders, which had given the company considerable leeway during the holidays, lost confidence in company’s turnaround plan. “The business plan was underwhelming, that is best way to say it,’’ said Mr. Foley.

The company has been hemorrhaging money. Mr. Foley calculated that company has spent nearly $50 million on legal, banking and consulting fees from September through January. The lenders determined that they needed to stop burning through cash and start selling off the company’s inventory and real estate.

The company said on Thursday that it talked to several possible buyers of its American operations. But it could not complete a sale, leading to the demise of the 70-year-old retailer.

“The retail industry is going through such a conclusion, it is not clear what the end of the road looks like,” said Stephen B. Selbst, a bankruptcy lawyer at Herrick Feinstein. “If you are an equity investor, you probably think ‘you know what? I have other uses for my money.”

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With One Battle Over, a Bigger One Looms for Qualcomm: Apple

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“There’s no doubt I would have made a quick profit if the Broadcom deal had gone through,” he said. “But as a shareholder, I voted against it.”

That’s partly because, “as a citizen, I didn’t like the deal,” he said. Broadcom typically slashes costs, especially research and development, and the company said it would do exactly that if it acquired Qualcomm. “In the long run that’s not good for the country or for society,” Mr. Dodson said.

He agreed with the Trump administration’s assessment that, by cutting Qualcomm’s research costs, Broadcom would be assisting Chinese rivals in the global race for dominance in 5G communications technology.

But as an investor, his reasoning can pretty much be reduced to one word: Apple.

Apple has traditionally been one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers, along with Samsung and every other major handset company. But the two technology giants are also embroiled in an epic battle over licensing fees for Qualcomm’s patented technology, with profound implications not only for Qualcomm’s business model and Apple’s profit margins, but the future of wireless communication.

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President Trump blocked the takeover of Qualcomm, based in La Jolla, Calif., by Broadcom this week on national security grounds. Credit Graham Walzer for The New York Times

If Qualcomm and Apple can just bury the hatchet, Mr. Dodson reasons, Qualcomm’s revenues would soar, and its stock price would climb well past Broadcom’s offering price of $79 a share. By Mr. Dodson’s reckoning, once Apple resumes paying Qualcomm, the chipmaker will be worth at least $84 a share, “which is why Broadcom’s offer didn’t really engage my attention,” he said.

That, however, is a big “if,” given the intractable positions both sides have staked out.

At the heart of the dispute is the way Qualcomm calculates the licensing fee it charges customers, which is a percentage of the cost of the net selling price of the entire handset — and not the price of the chip. That means that Apple, a high-cost producer whose iPhone X sells for as much as $1,000, has paid much higher licensing fees than low-cost competitors using exactly the same chip set.

Apple has called the arrangement an “extortion scheme.” It infuriates Apple that Qualcomm has, in effect, been subsidizing its low-cost competitors, including the very Chinese companies that Mr. Trump says he is so concerned about.

Qualcomm has countered that its intellectual property makes many of the iPhones’ distinctive features possible, features that low-cost competitors haven’t replicated, and therefore Qualcomm deserves a percentage of the cost of the entire device.

Mr. Dodson made little immediate headway when he met with a delegation of top Qualcomm officials late last month and pressed his case for a settlement with Apple. The officials, including the chief executive Steve Mollenkopf and Paul Jacobs, a Qualcomm founder and, until recently, executive chairman, visited Mr. Dodson in San Francisco to make their case against the Broadcom bid.

In Mr. Dodson’s account of the meeting, he urged the Qualcomm executives to settle with Apple rather than risk alienating it as a customer over the long term. But Qualcomm officials said Apple was demanding more than they were prepared to give and that, on an engineering level, relations with Apple remained good. They assured him that eventually they would reach a settlement, revenues would normalize, and Qualcomm stock would respond.

Still, “I’d like to see them budge” on the licensing issue, Mr. Dodson said. “I can see Apple’s point.”

But if Qualcomm stopped charging Apple a percentage of the device’s cost, it would probably have to extend similar terms to all its major customers. It recently amended its agreement with Samsung without abandoning its approach to license fees. At the meeting, Qualcomm officials told Mr. Dodson they offered Apple similar terms, but Apple rejected them.

A Qualcomm spokeswoman declined to comment, as did an Apple spokeswoman.

Long-simmering tensions between Qualcomm and Apple reached a boiling point in 2016, when Qualcomm halted rebates it was giving Apple. Qualcomm claimed Apple had violated the terms of the rebate agreement by cooperating with South Korea’s investigation into what Samsung and others said was exclusionary conduct by Qualcomm. Apple responded by withholding the license fees it paid manufacturers of iPhones, who in turn stopped passing on the payments to Qualcomm.

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Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple. The technology giant has been locked in a fight with Qualcomm over licensing fees that it has called an “extortion scheme.” Credit Aleksandar Plavevski/European Pressphoto Agency

Lawsuits and counterclaims erupted, and Qualcomm reduced its revenue estimates by $500 million a year.

While Apple has continued to buy and deploy the latest Qualcomm chips, it also reached out to a rival chipmaker, Intel, which began supplying an alternative to Qualcomm’s chip for the iPhone 7 (that phone, the iPhone 8 and the X may contain either a Qualcomm or Intel chip).

Qualcomm claims that Apple has compromised the performance of Qualcomm-equipped handsets in order to mask their superiority over the Intel-equipped phones. (Both Intel and Apple have vehemently denied the claims.)

Numerous lawsuits are now well underway in the United States, with some expected to go to trial later this year. Regulators in the European Union, Taiwan, South Korea and China have ruled that Qualcomm’s licensing practices are unlawful and have levied fines, decisions that Qualcomm is appealing. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is conducting its own investigation.

While armies of patent lawyers fight over the rival claims, investors have already rendered a verdict. Qualcomm shares, after peaking at more than $80 in 2014, dropped by nearly 50 percent, hitting a low of $44 a share in 2016.

Qualcomm’s precipitous decline is what attracted Mr. Dodson’s attention along with other so-called value investors, who look for stocks trading below their intrinsic value. He said his fund’s average cost per share for its Qualcomm position is about $56, so the fund was still ahead even after the deal collapsed this week. On Thursday Qualcomm was trading at around $60.

Still, Qualcomm’s performance has knocked the Endeavor fund from its perch at the top of the Morningstar rankings. So far this year it’s 61st.

Now that Mr. Trump has rescued Qualcomm from the imminent threat of a Broadcom takeover, its financial prospects — and share price — will largely follow the twists and turns in the Apple standoff. While Mr. Dodson remains optimistic about the outcome, that doesn’t mean he’s against all potential takeovers of Qualcomm.

Last week there were rumors that Intel might launch a bid for Broadcom, which made Mr. Dodson wonder: “Why doesn’t it bid for Qualcomm? If Intel bought it, Qualcomm would be in good hands.”

“As a citizen, I’d be very comfortable with that,” he said.

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Wary of China, Europe and Others Push Back on Foreign Takeovers

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The committee, which can essentially block foreign acquisitions of American firms on national security grounds, has already quashed a number of deals by Chinese-linked buyers. Lawmakers are now calling to broaden the types of transactions the panel can vet.

Europe got off to a later start. A protectionist debate ramped up last year when Germany, France and Italy called for a Europe-wide mechanism for more rigorous vetting of foreign takeovers. The move came amid rising worries about the loss of the region’s edge in technology, and the transfer of so-called dual-use technologies to China.

Concerns mounted after the 2016 purchase of Kuka, Germany’s biggest and most advanced maker of robotics, by a Chinese company. And they have intensified as China has invested in railways, ports and other strategic infrastructure across southern and Central Europe.

Some of the reaction reflects domestic political concerns. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said on a visit to Beijing in January, for example, that Paris would welcome investment from China, but only after screening deals to ensure French assets are not “looted.”

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Robotic arms made by Kuka welding together parts of a Volkswagen Passat in Emden, Germany, last week. Kuka, Germany’s biggest and most advanced maker of robotics, was purchased by a Chinese company in 2016. Credit Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Still, numerous governments are pressing to harden reviews of foreign investment as China embarks on a major push to transform its economy to a cutting-edge superpower, an ambitious policy known as Made in China 2025.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker proposed in September creating a Europe-wide framework to screen investment deals by foreign companies. And last year, the German Parliament passed a law allowing deals to be scrutinized on national security grounds if an investor’s stake reaches 25 percent.

But the political push to tighten up on Beijing faces considerable hurdles.

For one thing, the risks of angering China are real. Despite the optics, European companies remain eager for Chinese investments. And European governments are also wary of offending Beijing at a time when they are pressing to get better access to Chinese customers.

Even within Germany there is no unity among political leaders. Angela Merkel, recently sworn in for a fourth term as chancellor, has actively cultivated ties with Beijing, and China has become a crucial market for companies like Volkswagen, a German behemoth and Europe’s biggest automaker.

Europe is also divided over how to cope with China’s rise. Greece, Hungary and other poorer southern and central European countries that benefited from China’s largess during the financial crisis have generally opposed tightening scrutiny for fear of discouraging further Chinese investment.

As a result, Mr. Juncker has sought to walk a fine line in his proposal to screen investment deals, which is seen as the first step toward an E.U.-wide mechanism similar to Cfius.

It’s a reason critics say the plan lacks real teeth. It would mainly require European Union member states to inform Brussels of foreign investment deals, especially ones that might affect the security of another country. Currently, only 12 of the E.U.’s 28 member states have any screening mechanism in place.

“It will be difficult for the E.U. to have a strong institutionalized mechanism for foreign direct investment any time soon,” said Jue Wang, an associate fellow in the Asia Pacific Program at Chatham House, a research organization in London. “European companies will still want to welcome Chinese money.”

The proposal also appears to be weaker than what other major economic powers have in place. Japan recently strengthened restrictions on foreign investments related to security. And Britain this week strengthened government powers to scrutinize foreign investment in specific areas of the economy through the lens of national security, with China in mind.

Nor would the European Union’s plan necessarily catch innovative new strategies by Chinese investors to take stakes in strategic assets.

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The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, meets with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang late last year. While Mr. Trudeau has courted Chinese investors, public sentiment in Canada has not always aligned with that effort. Credit Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

Germany was caught off guard after one of China’s wealthiest men last month amassed a $9 billion stake in Daimler, a crown jewel of Germany’s auto industry. Li Shufu, the chairman of the Chinese car giant Geely, made the grab through a financial maneuver before anyone even realized what was happening. Last year, the German company rejected a proposal by the Chinese businessman to take stakes in the company.

The stealth purchase over months made Mr. Li the largest shareholder in Daimler. German authorities are examining whether the purchase adhered to German investment laws. But it is unlikely that either Daimler or the German government can do anything about the acquisition.

The experience of other countries shows the complexity of the situation.

In Australia, where Chinese foreign investment reached more than $30 billion in 2014 alone, the government has sought to toughen screening.

Wariness of Beijing’s growing economic influence has increased as Chinese investors buy up vast swaths of the Australian economy and over concerns about Chinese businessmen giving millions of dollars to Australian politicians. Chinese takeovers of Australian businesses have jumped in recent years, along with an acceleration in purchases of agricultural land.

In 2015, the government strengthened foreign acquisitions and takeover rules to require the approval of a national oversight board if, for instance, a foreign purchaser’s portfolio of farmland was worth $15 million or more. It has also blocked bids by a Chinese firms for Australian electricity companies, citing such deals as contrary to the national interest.

More changes could be afoot. The government recently said it would consider updating its foreign investment guidelines so Australians could be sure that proposed investments were “good for the country.”

Elsewhere, while the government of Prime Minster Justin Trudeau has been actively courting Chinese investors, public sentiment in Canada has not always aligned with that effort. Some attempted takeovers of Canadian companies by Chinese investors were abandoned because of concerns over national security and Chinese business practices. Lenovo, the Chinese computer maker, dropped ambitions to acquire BlackBerry, a smartphone used widely in government agencies, after Ottawa signaled a deal could compromise national security.

Those concerns prompted Canada’s previous Conservative government to strengthen foreign investment laws to require stakes taken by non-Canadian entities to pass a national security test.

The government is now reviewing a proposed takeover of Aecon, a major Canadian contractor, by Chinese state-backed CCCC International Holding. Officials are assessing whether national security would be undermined by the takeover of Aecon, which handles major infrastructure projects and has also done work for Canada’s military and nuclear industry.

“We welcome international investments that will benefit the Canadian economy,” said Karl W. Sasseville, a spokesman for Navdeep Bains, the minister for economic development whose department handles investment reviews “but not at the expense of national security.”

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IHeartMedia, U.S.’s Largest Radio Broadcaster, Files for Bankruptcy

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The bankruptcy is the culmination of iHeartMedia’s yearslong dance with its creditors; a final phase, long expected by analysts, began last month when the company skipped a $106 million interest payment.

It is also the latest and most high-profile shift in the tumultuous radio business, which has struggled to retain advertising dollars and compete with streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.

Cumulus Media, iHeart’s closest competitor, with 445 stations, declared bankruptcy four months ago. Last year, CBS Radio, after announcing its intention to exit the business, merged its stations with the much smaller Entercom Communications.

IHeart’s bankruptcy filing was announced on the same day that Spotify held an investor presentation in advance of its public listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Annual advertising, radio’s chief revenue source, has hovered around $16 billion for years, according to a report last year by the accounting firm PwC. By 2021, the report projected, that figure, for terrestrial broadcast stations, would reach only $16.6 billion, with a 10-year compounded annual growth rate of just 0.425 percent.

IHeartMedia has maintained that its radio stations remain popular and vital even as it has introduced apps and negotiated new licensing deals intended to control its royalty payments online.

The company’s terrestrial stations, it says, reach 271 million people each month, and in many markets it operates multiple outlets. There are eight iHeart stations in Los Angeles, for example, and six in New York, including Z100, a pop powerhouse.

Still, iHeartMedia has moved aggressively into the online market, renaming itself four years ago after a music app that its disc jockeys promote relentlessly on the air.

“We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st-century multiplatform, data-driven, digitally focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms,” Robert W. Pittman, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement announcing the bankruptcy filing.

Lance Vitanza, an analyst at Cowen, said that iHeartMedia had done better than most radio companies in expanding its audience and adapting to new technologies, but that debt had weighed it down — a burden that could find relief through the bankruptcy process.

“Ultimately, when they come out of bankruptcy, they will be in a much better position,” Mr. Vitanza said. “We expect them to be able to focus their resources on growing their business rather than on debt service, which is what they’ve had to do for the last 10 years.”

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Ford, Once a Leader in the S.U.V. Race, Aims to Catch Up

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Earlier this decade, as the economy and auto sales rebounded, Ford executives were quick to note consumers’ waning preference for midsize cars and growing attraction to S.U.V.s and lighter, more fuel-efficient versions called crossovers. But Ford was slow to introduce new variations and redesign existing models, while General Motors and Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand zoomed ahead.

The push toward S.U.V.s signals a shift in emphasis for Ford. Before Mr. Hackett’s arrival last May, the company had focused much of its long-term strategy on self-driving cars, and had vowed to have a car with no steering wheel in mass-production by 2021.

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Ford’s Explorer ST, a high-performance version showcased by the automaker on Thursday. Credit Ford Motor Company

Ford is pressing on with self-driving vehicles, but executives barely mentioned them as part of the new vehicle strategy they presented on Thursday.

Along with its S.U.V. plan, Mr. Hackett said, Ford is also working to slash costs by streamlining how it develops vehicles and reducing the number of sets of basic components — known as architectures — that it uses to create different models. “This is not change for change’s sake,” he said. “This is to redesign the business.”

In the future, the company expects to use just five architectures to make almost all of the vehicles it produces around the world. Other automakers, including Volkswagen and Toyota Motor, have already made similar moves.

Ford has said it expected its measures to reduce costs by $4 billion over the next five years.

Brian Johnson, a financial analyst at Barclays Capital, said it might take Ford two years to feel a significant impact from these efforts. “We continue to believe that arguably there won’t be much to get excited about with the Ford story until 2019 or perhaps 2020,” Mr. Johnson said.

The new S.U.V.s planned by Ford include a version of the Bronco, the compact S.U.V. the company phased out 20 years ago; an all-electric, four-door model designed to compete with Tesla’s Model X; and redesigned versions of existing models, the Escape and Explorer. The company’s Lincoln brand plans to introduce two new S.U.V.s at the New York International Auto Show later this month.

There are also several all-new S.U.V.s in the pipeline, including a variety of off-road models and hybrids, Mr. Farley said.

“Every time we launch a utility in North America, our intention is to have a hybrid,” Mr. Farley said. “We are going to make hybrids mainstream.”

Hybrids like the Toyota Prius have appealed primarily to car buyers seeking better gas mileage. Mr. Farley said Ford planned to use electric power to boost the torque and towing power of the S.U.V.s it is developing.

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