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NYSE Owner Intercontinental Exchange Makes Takeover Offer for eBay

The owner of the New York Stock Exchange has made a takeover offer for

eBay


EBAY 8.78%

Inc. that could value the sprawling online marketplace at more than $30 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Intercontinental Exchange


ICE -7.45%

Inc., known as ICE, has approached eBay in the past and did so again recently, the people said. The companies aren’t currently in formal talks, and there is no guarantee eBay would agree to a deal.

Should there be one, it would be big, given eBay’s market value of more than $28 billion and the premium ICE would likely have to pay.

ICE issued a statement late Tuesday confirming its interest in a deal after The Wall Street Journal reported on it earlier in the day and the company’s shares sank.

“ICE approached eBay to explore a range of potential opportunities that might create value for the shareholders of both companies,” it said. “EBay has not engaged in a meaningful way.”

It added: “Over ICE’s 20-year history, the company’s track record of creating shareholder value, both through organic growth and acquisitions, speaks for itself. ICE does look to explore potential opportunities that it expects will deliver enhanced shareholder value, and will continue to do so in the future.”

ICE is primarily interested in owning eBay’s core marketplace business, the people said, and not its classified unit, which eBay has been considering selling. The classified unit could fetch about $10 billion in a sale, people familiar with the matter have said.

ICE may see an opening to apply its technological expertise connecting buyers and sellers to eBay’s core e-commerce site, covering everything from electronics to collectibles.

Buying eBay would be a surprising strategic move for ICE, and its shareholders didn’t welcome the news. ICE closed down 7.5% while eBay’s stock soared, closing up 8.8%.

EBay was a pioneer in e-commerce but has struggled to keep up with competitors such as

Amazon.com Inc.

The company has sought to distance itself from its reputation as an online auction house—as opposed to an electronic marketplace—as online auctions have fallen out of vogue.

As the luster it enjoyed in the dot-com era has worn off, eBay has attracted the attention of multiple activist investors in recent years including

Carl Icahn,

who pushed for its 2015 spinoff of the payment platform

PayPal Holdings Inc.

About a year ago, the activist hedge funds Elliott Management Corp. and Starboard Value LP urged eBay to consider selling both its StubHub ticketing and classified-ads businesses.

EBay later struck settlement deals handing the funds board representation and late last year to sell StubHub to Geneva-based Viagogo Entertainment Inc. for $4.05 billion.

The company has been without a permanent chief executive since

Devin Wenig

left in September, citing clashes with the board. Unfilled executive ranks are often seen as opportunities for suitors to pounce.

“In the past few weeks it became clear that I was not on the same page as my new board,” Mr. Wenig tweeted from his personal account following his resignation. “Whenever that happens, its best for everyone to turn that page over.”

EBay reported last week a declining profit in its latest quarter and gave a weaker-than-expected first-quarter revenue outlook.

Its shares lost 4.5% the following day and closed Monday at $34.39.

On its earnings call, when asked by an analyst if eBay’s core business is part of the company’s strategic review, interim Chief Financial Officer

Andrew Cring

said, “Everything is part of it.”

On Tuesday, Starboard published another letter to eBay management, saying the company hasn’t made enough progress and called on it to commit to a separation of its classifieds business.

ICE is best known for operating the NYSE as well as futures exchanges around the world. Chief Executive

Jeffrey Sprecher

founded the company in 2000 and has turned it into a global exchange empire by acquiring stock and futures markets including the London-based International Petroleum Exchange in 2001 and the Chicago Stock Exchange in 2018.

ICE also runs a number of financial-data businesses and clearinghouses for derivatives trades.

Acquiring eBay would be an unusual move for Atlanta-based ICE, which in its 20-year history has largely stuck to running marketplaces for financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives, rather than the sorts of consumer goods sold on San Jose, Calif.-based eBay’s platform.

Still, ICE has a history of buying underperforming trading platforms and making them more profitable. Since closing its acquisition of the NYSE in 2013, it has slashed the Big Board’s expenses, revamped its outdated trading systems and spent tens of millions of dollars on renovating the exchange’s historic building in Manhattan to make it a splashier place to stage initial public offerings.

ICE’s interest in eBay comes as the traditional way that exchange groups have grown—through cross-border takeovers of rival market operators—has become tougher because of the increasing consolidation of the business and regulatory obstacles.

In 2016, ICE explored an offer for

London Stock Exchange Group

PLC, but retreated, allowing

Deutsche Börse AG

to pursue a bid for the LSE that was ultimately scuttled by European Union regulators. In 2017, ICE was forced to unwind its acquisition of Trayport, a European energy-trading platform, after opposition from U.K. antitrust authorities.

Write to Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com and Corrie Driebusch at corrie.driebusch@wsj.com

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Best Buy Says CEO Will Stay in Her Job

Best Buy said CEO Corie Barry cooperated with the review and it has now concluded.


Photo:

/Associated Press

Best Buy Co.


BBY 1.68%

said it has concluded a board-led investigation into Chief Executive

Corie Barry

and has decided to keep her in her role atop the electronics retailer.

The company had hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations brought to the board in December that Ms. Barry had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a fellow former executive before she took over as CEO last June. 

Best Buy didn’t disclose the findings of the investigation and a spokesman declined to provide details. On Tuesday the company said Ms. Barry cooperated with the review and it has now concluded.

“The Board supports the continued leadership of the company by Ms. Barry,” Best Buy said in a statement. “To preserve the confidentiality and integrity of the process, the Board will have no further comment.”

“I appreciate the Board’s support,” Ms. Barry said in a statement. She didn’t address the allegations.

The allegations were sent to the board in an anonymous letter dated Dec. 7. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a copy of the letter in January.

Ms. Barry, 44 years old, is one of the youngest CEOs of an S&P 500 company and one of the few women. She succeeded

Hubert Joly,

who led a turnaround at the retailer and still serves as its executive chairman.

Mr. Joly’s predecessor as CEO resigned abruptly in April 2012 after the board opened an investigation into his personal conduct and an alleged inappropriate relationship with a Best Buy subordinate.

Write to Sarah Nassauer at sarah.nassauer@wsj.com

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Match Posts Higher Profit Boosted by Tinder, Affirms Revenue Projections

Match Group Inc.


MTCH 2.74%

said full-year revenue topped $2 billion, fueled by growth in Tinder, and affirmed its revenue outlook for mid- to high-teen growth.

Tinder, Match’s most popular app, continued to drive momentum for the company, adding about 1.5 million subscribers in 2019, bringing the total number of Tinder subscribers to 5.9 million. Average revenue per user for the app, a key metric of growth, climbed to 59 cents from 58 cents a year earlier.

The company, which owns online dating platforms Hinge, Match.com and Tinder, said on Tuesday that 2019 revenue rose 19% from 2018 to $2.05 billion, with Tinder contributing about $1.15 billion, or 56%, to total revenue.

The dating-services provider, which is preparing for a leadership change and a spinoff, said it expects Tinder’s 2020 revenue to be comparable to 2019.

Match Group’s shares fell 8.4% in after-hours trading Tuesday to $76.

In January, Chief Executive

Mandy Ginsberg

stepped down, citing personal reasons, and the company designated President

Shar Dubey

as its next CEO. Ms. Dubey will take the helm on March 1.

New York media and internet holding company

IAC/InterActiveCorp.,


IAC 2.37%

which operates media platforms Dotdash and Vimeo, agreed in December to fully separate Match from its remaining businesses. IAC holds a roughly 81% stake in the dating-services provider. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. IAC’s shares slipped 4.7% in aftermarket trading.

In the fourth quarter, the Dallas-based Match’s revenue rose 20% from a year ago to $547.2 million, but fell shy of analysts’ estimates of $553 million.

Overall Match’s profit rose to $132.2 million, or 45 cents a share, in the latest quarter, in line with analysts’ estimates, according to a FactSet poll.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

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Snap Adds Users Despite Fierce Competition, Though Guidance Disappoints

Snap Inc.


SNAP 4.11%

reported quarterly growth in users and revenue, indicating the company is managing to carve out a larger role for its messaging app even in the face of strong competition.

Yet revenue growth in the important December quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations, and investors sent shares tumbling more than 11% in after-hours trading Tuesday. Wall Street analysts also expected a slightly stronger first-quarter revenue-guidance range.

Despite reporting its first profitable quarter on an adjusted basis, Snap said its next quarter could turn negative again, rankling investors who had hoped to see more steps towards profitability.

“The Street is like: ‘How many years do you give Snap before they get profitable?,’” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

The Santa Monica, Calif., parent of Snapchat said its daily user base rose eight million from the previous quarter to 218 million, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of growth. Snapchat’s ability to increase its user count is crucial to its ability to attract more advertisers and collect more revenue. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected the number of users to increase to 215 million.

Snap faces competition on multiple fronts:

Facebook Inc.

and

Alphabet Inc.’s

Google controlled about 60% of the world-wide mobile ad market in 2019, while Snap’s share is less than 1%, according to research firm eMarketer, and in the past year, short-video app TikTok exploded onto the scene. While TikTok, owned by China-based Bytedance Inc., is still in the early days of selling ads, the buzzy app quickly signed up millions of users, including in the U.S.

Snap’s fourth-quarter revenue—which comes primarily from selling ads—rose 44% from a year earlier to a record haul of $561 million. Advertisers typically spend heavily in the fourth quarter during the holiday shopping season in November and December, and Snap also has improved its ability to target ads to users.

Snap also posted expanding quarterly losses, due in part to a one-time legal charge. Snap said Tuesday it agreed to pay $187.5 million to settle securities class-action lawsuits related to its 2017 initial public offering.

The fourth-quarter loss was $240.7 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with $191.7 million, or 14 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts had expected a narrower loss of $169 million.

Snap has yet to report a profit as a publicly traded company. Though for the first time Tuesday the company said the quarter was profitable on an adjusted basis, with earnings excluding nonrecurring items as well as interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $42 million.

Through Tuesday’s close, shares of Snap had gained 16% this year. The value of the company’s stock more than doubled in 2019.

Snap’s results come on the heels of the strong user growth Facebook reported in late January. On Monday, Google said ad revenue for its YouTube video unit slowed in the fourth quarter—a surprise considering that the holiday season typically delivers a boom to ad-supported businesses. Industry watchers said competition from TikTok could have been a factor in the fourth-quarter slowdown.

For the first quarter, Snap said it expects revenue of between $450 million and $470 million. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting $461 million in revenue. If Snap hits the higher end of its revenue range, it will represent accelerating revenue growth.

Write to Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com

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Goldman Executive Exits After He Is Barred From Banking Over 1MDB Scandal

WASHINGTON—A senior

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.


GS 1.31%

executive left the firm after the Federal Reserve punished him for his role in a Malaysian corruption scandal that has tarnished Goldman’s reputation.

The Fed on Tuesday said it had permanently barred

Andrea Vella

from the banking industry for his role in Goldman’s financing of a multibillion-dollar fraud involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd., a sovereign-wealth fund.

Mr. Vella left the firm in recent days, a person familiar with the matter said.

A lawyer for Mr. Vella said his client agreed to the ban, which does not require him to pay a fine or admit wrongdoing, “in order to move on to the next stage of his career and to avoid putting himself and his family through years of litigation.”

He said Mr. Vella did not know about any misdeeds alleged by prosecutors, who have described a sprawling web of kickbacks, bribes and outright theft.

Mr. Vella, a financial-structuring specialist who was once a rising star at the Wall Street bank, had been on paid leave since late 2018, when he was implicated—though not charged—by Justice Department prosecutors.

He is the third senior Goldman banker named by the U.S. government in the 1MDB scandal, in which more than $4 billion was allegedly looted from the Malaysian government fund.

The investigation, now in its fourth year, has hung over the early tenure of Goldman’s chief executive,

David Solomon.

The bank is negotiating to pay the Justice Department a fine of about $2 billion and plead guilty to violating antibribery laws, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Goldman socked away an extra $1.1 billion late last year to help pay for an expected settlement with regulators, who allege the bank overlooked signs of corruption at the Malaysian fund in pursuit of fees.

Tim Leissner,

a Goldman partner, pleaded guilty in 2018 to stealing more than $200 million and paying bribes to government officials. Another Goldman banker is awaiting trial in the U.S. and Malaysia. Both are accused of conspiring with a Malaysian government adviser, Jho Low, to siphon off the proceeds of several bond sales that Goldman handled for 1MDB.

Italian-born Mr. Vella previously headed Goldman’s investment-banking operations in Asia. The Federal Reserve said he engaged in “unsafe and unsound practices,” failing to escalate internal concerns about Mr. Low, who had already set off red flags inside the firm.

“Low was a person of known concern to Goldman, and his involvement indicated heightened potential underwriting risks,” the Fed said in a statement.

With the indictment of two former senior Goldman Sachs bankers, accused by U.S. prosecutors of paying bribes, stealing and laundering money from a Malaysian sovereign-wealth fund, the Wall Street giant finds itself at the center of one of the world’s largest-ever financial scandals. Photo: Reuters (Originally published Nov. 2, 2018)

Write to Liz Hoffman at liz.hoffman@wsj.com and Andrew Ackerman at andrew.ackerman@wsj.com

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Coronavirus Crisis Could Delay U.S. Boost From Deal With China, Kudlow Says

WASHINGTON—White House National Economic Council Director

Larry Kudlow

said Tuesday he expected the fallout from the deadly coronavirus to delay—but not derail—the economic boost the U.S. anticipated from the first phase of the trade deal with China.

“It is true the … export boom from that trade deal will take longer because of the Chinese virus,” said Mr. Kudlow in a Fox Business Network interview.

The phase-one deal calls for China to step up purchases of U.S. goods and services. Mr. Kudlow and others say the purchases could be affected by the economic strains on China, where business and industry has been widely idled as efforts continue to prevent the virus from spreading.

But Mr. Kudlow said he expected the longer-term impact to be minimal.

“I think it’s going to be much tougher for China,” he said. “The world hasn’t stopped. We’re a very vibrant economy in the U.S.A.  And, incidentally, this may spur some business investment in equipment and inventories.”

One former U.S. trade official attending a conference Tuesday in Washington said concerns over the trade deal needed to take a back seat to the humanitarian crisis playing out in China, where more than 400 people have died from the virus.

“The best thing the U.S. can do about this is to be compassionate,” said Wendy Cutler, former senior trade official in the Obama administration. “I think there is a heavy incentive on both sides for this agreement to work … China will do what it can do to implement this deal as best it can.”

Clete Willems,

an Akin Gump partner and former Trump administration trade official, said China will push to meet its purchase targets “because it doesn’t want to upset the U.S.”

Last month, President Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He signed a deal that called for China to increase its purchase of U.S. goods and services by $200 billion over the next two years.

The deal called for increased purchases of manufactured goods by $77.7 billion. The category of tech services, which includes charges for cloud computing-related services and the use of intellectual property, is projected to grow by $37.9 billion. Energy purchases will increase by $52.4 billion under the deal.

The much-touted agriculture purchases have smaller goals for increased trade under the deal than energy, manufacturing and services, with an increase of $32 billion over the two-year period. In addition to the purchase targets, however, China has agreed to steps that allow more market access for U.S. dairy products, poultry, beef, fish, rice and even pet food.

Any purchase delays by China, however, could be made up with a surge of buying later.

“It’s very possible China gets over this by the late spring and will use a lot of their monetary easing to try to jump start the economy to make up for the losses in the first quarter,” said

Ann Lee,

author of the book, “What the U.S. Can Learn from China.”

Challenges for travel and leisure stocks, slower economic growth and a weaker Chinese yuan are among the new market implications investors are dealing with as the new coronavirus spreads rapidly. Photo: Bloomberg/Qilai Shen

Write to Katy Stech Ferek at katherine.stech@wsj.com and William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com

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Bombardier in Talks to Sell Business-Jet Unit to Textron

Bombardier Inc.


BDRBF 6.12%

is in talks to sell its business-jet division to

Textron Inc.


TXT 8.78%

as the struggling Canadian train and plane maker moves to pare its debts, people familiar with the matter said.

The talks have been going on for several weeks, one of the people said, and they may not result in a deal. Should they, it could yield billions that Bombardier could use to reduce some of its roughly $9 billion of debt.

It is unclear what terms and structure the companies are discussing.

The negotiations began after Bombardier entered into talks in mid-2019 to sell its train unit to France’s

Alstom SA


ALO -1.23%

. Those discussions have been bogged down, however, in part over the valuation of a business that is struggling with a production backlog. Bombardier is now holding parallel talks for the jet and train units as the company seeks to ensure the sale of one of its major divisions ahead of a big debt payment next year.

The company has nearly $1.5 billion of debt coming due next year, according to Factset.

The business-jet market is in a multiyear slump due to increased competition, with deliveries at half the level of their peak in 2008, and combining the businesses could help combat that.

Demand for the most expensive jets such as those made by Bombardier —costing $50 million to $70 million apiece—is holding up better.

Bombardier specializes in large business jets with such lines as the Learjet 75, the Challenger 650 and its core Global brand. Its recently launched Global 7500 is the world’s largest and longest-range business jet, seating up to 19 passengers. The jet group is the company’s most profitable and accounts for most of its aviation income.

Its aviation unit reported $388 million of earnings before interest, taxes and special items in the first nine months of 2019. Bombardier said last month it expects the unit to report sales of about $7.5 billion for 2019, while its train division would log about $8.3 billion. The company is set to report full-year results later this month.

Bombardier’s Global 6500 business jet


Photo:

david becker/Reuters

Textron, maker of the Cessna brand, is the world’s biggest business-jet maker by deliveries and specializes in small- and medium-size planes. The company has a market value of roughly $11 billion.

Textron also owns Bell Helicopters, one of the world’s biggest makers of rotorcraft, as well as a large defense business specializing in drones and ground vehicles. Textron’s aircraft segment accounted for roughly 36% of its revenue in 2018.

The Providence, R.I., company said in December it planned to cut costs and decrease head count in both its aviation segment and its slightly smaller industrial segment.

Bombardier has already agreed to sell its commercial jetliner and turboprop units and has said it is actively pursuing alternatives to accelerate payments on roughly $9 billion of debt. Manufacturing and software problems with train orders primarily in Europe have delayed deliveries and triggered a $350 million charge for the fourth quarter. The company also signaled it may exit a joint venture with

Airbus SE

to build CSeries commercial jets because of rising costs as the unit increases the volume of planes produced.

The planned sale of one of Bombardier’s two remaining core divisions underscores the rapid decline of a storied Canadian transportation company that got its start in 1937 with the invention of a winter vehicle now known as the snowmobile and went on to compete with some of the world’s biggest aircraft and train makers.

The company, controlled by the Bombardier and Beaudoin families, began to falter several years ago after an attempt to compete against global giants with its CSeries line of narrow-body commercial planes took more than a decade and billions of dollars to build. Airbus in 2018 closed a deal to acquire a majority stake in the CSeries, which has since been renamed the A220.

The potential sale of the aircraft division could create political headwinds for Bombardier in Quebec. The province gave the company a $1 billion lifeline to support the troubled CSeries aircraft in 2015 and its large aerospace sector is sustained in part by Bombardier’s business-jet operations.

Write to Jacquie McNish at Jacquie.McNish@wsj.com and Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

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BP Raises Dividend, Boosts Divestment Targets

LONDON—

BP


BP 4.10%

PLC raised its dividend on Tuesday at the same time as reporting a small loss and extending its planned asset sales by an additional $5 billion, joining other oil giants in shedding assets to help maintain shareholder returns.

Last week,

Royal Dutch Shell

PLC also beefed up its pipeline of divestments and slowed spending on its share buyback program amid weaker earnings. And in the U.S., Texas energy giant

Exxon Mobil Corp.

has a continuing divestment program targeting the sale of $15 billion worth of assets by 2021.

The wave of divestitures comes as a combination of lower energy prices and weaker refining and chemical margins are hurting the sector’s profitability.

BP announced an expanded plan to divest $15 billion of assets by mid-2021, having previously targeted $10 billion in asset sales by the end of 2020. The company has already unloaded $9.4 billion in assets since the start of 2019.

Its U.S. gas assets sold for less than expected, BP said, contributing to impairment charges of $4.5 billion since October, including $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter.

Income from the divestments helped lower BP’s gearing—the ratio of net debt to the total of net debt and equity—to 35% including leases in the fourth quarter, from 36% in the third quarter. This remains above the company’s long-term target level of between 20% and 30%.

The combination of lower debt and additional divestments had given the company confidence to raise the dividend now, said BP’s chief financial officer,

Brian Gilvary,

in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

BP’s shares traded 4.4% higher on Tuesday.

Colin Smith,

analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the increased dividend was eye-catching, “particularly as it comes when gearing is above the top end of the guidance range with the macro outlook rapidly deteriorating.”

The fourth quarter also marked the final set of results overseen by BP’s Chief Executive

Bob Dudley.

His successor,

Bernard Looney,

will take up the role on Wednesday.

He takes control at a difficult time. Adding to the energy sector’s already considerable challenges, the outbreak of coronavirus is expected to slow economic growth, thereby dragging on global oil demand growth, particularly in China. Benchmark Brent oil prices have fallen around 17% since the start of the year to around $55 a barrel.

“We recognize the headwinds you can see are really around coronavirus and what that does to the oil price,” said Mr. Gilvary.

BP expects the virus could knock oil demand by between 300,000 and 500,000 barrels a day this year, from a previous expectation of 1.2 million barrels a day of demand growth, Mr. Gilvary added.

To get an edge in the oil market, traders turn to satellites, shadows and a lot of fancy math.

Write to Sarah McFarlane at sarah.mcfarlane@wsj.com

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Justice Department’s Antitrust Chief Recuses Himself From Google Probe

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim removed himself from an antitrust investigation of Google over a potential conflict of interest.


Photo:

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department’s chief antitrust enforcement official has recused himself from the department’s investigation into whether

Alphabet Inc.’s


GOOG 3.61%

Google is unlawfully suppressing competition.

The department said that as the probe progressed, Assistant Attorney General

Makan Delrahim

came to realize that he needed to recuse himself because of his past work in private practice.

Google was a one-time client. In 2007, Mr. Delrahim advised the search giant as it sought approval from the Federal Trade Commission to buy internet ad firm DoubleClick.

Read more

  • State Attorneys General to Meet With Justice Officials to Coordinate on Google Probe

Some people who have been critical of Google and other Big Tech companies, such as

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

(D-Mass.), a Democratic presidential candidate, called for Mr. Delrahim’s recusal months ago.

Mr. Delrahim “revisited potential conflicts with previous work with the Department of Justice’s ethics office. He and the ethics office have decided that he should now recuse himself from a matter within the tech review in an abundance of caution,” a department spokesman said.

The New York Times first reported Mr. Delrahim’s recusal.

The department for months has been investigating Google, as well as conducting a broader probe into whether other tech giants, including

Facebook Inc.,

are using their dominance in ways that violate U.S. antitrust law.  The reviews are expected to last for much of 2020.

Associate Deputy Attorney General Ryan Shores is overseeing the reviews.

The Department of Justice is investigating the U.S.’s largest tech firms for allegedly monopolistic behavior. Roughly 20 years ago, a similar case threatened to destabilize Microsoft. WSJ explains.

Write to Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com and Sadie Gurman at sadie.gurman@wsj.com

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Boeing 737 MAX Woes Hit One Sector of Wall Street Deal Making

The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has had knock-on effects on the company’s suppliers.


Photo:

andy rain/Shutterstock

LONDON—

Boeing Co.

’s 737 MAX crisis is spilling into the deals world.

A British supplier to the jet maker is delaying plans to sell its aerostructures unit amid uncertainty over when the airliner will return to service, according to people familiar with the matter.

Senior


SNR -0.48%

PLC said in December the business was up for sale. It was most recently considering offers as part of an auction process that was expected to end later this month, according to some of the people familiar with the matter. Instead, Senior has decided to push that back after bids came in below the £450 million ($588 million) price the company was seeking, according to one of the people.

The reason: Buyers have been unable to properly price many aerospace assets because of the uncertainty surrounding the 737 MAX, these people said. Senior is a major supplier for the MAX, providing the jet with structural components for the airframe and engine.

Boeing said in December it would stop making the MAX while it awaits approval from U.S. and international regulators to return it to service. The plane was grounded by regulators around the world in March last year after two deadly crashes exposed problems with its flight-control systems.

The grounding has rippled across the U.S. economy, forcing some suppliers and some of Boeing’s airline customers to delay investments and cut jobs. Boeing is such an important component of the U.S. economy that the production halt is expected to affect overall American economic output.

The uncertainty has affected other deals. Connecticut-based manufacturer

Stanley Black & Decker Inc.

said last week it had agreed to buy specialty-fasteners maker Consolidated Aerospace Manufacturing LLC, another Boeing supplier, for as much as $1.5 billion.

But the deal came with an unusual provision: Stanley Black & Decker is holding back $200 million of the purchase price until the Federal Aviation Administration approves the MAX’s return to service and Boeing reaches previously agreed-upon production levels.

For its part, Senior told investors last week its revenue this year is expected to be about 20% lower than in 2019 as a result of the MAX production halt. Boeing said last month that it expects the aircraft won’t get approval until the middle of the year, but indicated that production could resume before then.

Write to Benjamin Katz at ben.katz@wsj.com and Ben Dummett at ben.dummett@wsj.com

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