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French billionaire Vincent Bolloré found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons this week, as prosecutors placed him under formal investigation related to suspected bribery of foreign officials in Africa, one step short of an indictment. Mr Bolloré, 66, denies any wrongdoing.
Harriet Agnew writes in a profile that the probe comes at a high-stakes moment for the audacious dealmaker, who built an ailing family paper manufacturer into a portfolio of global investments across transportation and logistics, communication and electricity storage solutions. He is in the process of handing over his empire to his four children and is also locked in a battle in Italy over the former state monopoly, Telecom Italia. Urbane and charismatic, “he makes you feel like you’re the most important person in the room," says one rival chief executive.
EU supplication: The twin visits to Washington by Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel this week found the French and German leaders mounting a major charm offensive to convince US President Donald Trump not to ditch the Iran nuclear deal. Despite their best efforts at "Trump tickling", writes Jeremy Shapiro, both of them found themselves in weak positions. Essentially they are supplicants who care far more about their relationships with the US than Mr Trump ever will.
Cutting ties: Derek Laud, one of the UK's best known black Tories writes in the Financial Times that he has renounced his affiliation with the party over its "sinister — and now abandoned — proposal to deport hundreds of British citizens who moved to the UK from the Caribbean". As the son of Jamaican parents who arrived in Britain in the 1950s, he writes that the policy toward what is known as the Windrush generation "has nothing to do with what I understood by Conservatism and I find it unforgivable" .
Owners bite back: British retailer John Lewis is struggling, largely because of problems at its upscale supermarket chain Waitrose. While the entire sector is having to cope with fickle customers and the rise of online shopping, management's efforts at Waitrose have been complicated by the fact that the company is owned by its employees. Andrew Hill observes that the raft of disgruntled "partners" who publicly question the company's strategy should cure UK politicians of their utopian enthusiasm for employee ownership.
Best of the week
Brexit could yet be stopped at customs by Gideon Rachman, who this week won the award for "best commentary in any medium on international news" from the Overseas Press Club of America
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron: we go behind the bromance by Robert Shrimsley
Trump administration picks the wrong time to ease up on banks by Gillian Tett
Measured May has succumbed to a tawdry migrant pose by Janan Ganesh
Has economics failed? Chris Giles versus Tom Clark
Kim Jong Un’s new diplomacy: miracle or a mirage? by Roula Khalaf
Donald Trump is right: China must play by the rules by Jamil Anderlini
Millennial heirs must prove their worth by John Gapper
We published the second edition of our Big Picture podcast featuring Sarah O'Connor on the changing world of work.
Our new initiative to encourage readers to propose opinion pieces is already bearing fruit. High school student Meyha Bishnoi's pitch to the firstname.lastname@example.org email box led to this piece about the impact of recent Indian rape cases on her life in Delhi.
What you've been saying
Why older generations turn to millennial-bashing— letter from Brian Conlan
I suspect that the generation-bashing so common by grey-hairs is a bit of psychological projection. It absolves older generations from reckoning with the fact that their “heirs” in every rich country in the world will be worse off than their parents.
Comment from Karl M on Treat social media like email and search engines
It is simple. We have wealthy monopolies blocking decent paid services. Google, Facebook etc. have killed paid email, paid search engines and paid social media by offering well developed stuff for "free". We need a realignment of the existing debate. Maybe letting people sell their privacy for a quick shot of dopamine is not such a good idea. Maybe having to pay for electronic communication is not outlandish.
Scaling up the Swiss customs model— letter from C Hayward
The idea of a Swiss model between the two Irelands is quite feasible but would not achieve the desired objective. In Ireland a border already exists between north and south with different taxation levels on either side and the non-existence of controls at the border works quite well now.
The Big Read: Playing with fire: Iran deal looms over rising oil price
Donald Trump’s threat to put new sanctions on Iran could add to pressure on US consumers
Flattering Donald Trump reaps scant reward for Macron and Merkel
French and German leaders came to Washington as supplicants in need of US goodwill
Person in the News: Vincent Bolloré, master dealmaker under pressure
The former chairman of Vivendi finds himself in the legal spotlight
Just when you thought banking could not stoop any lower
Metro Bank paid £21m to its chairman’s wife for interior design work
Waitrose woes dent the halo of employee ownership
John Lewis-owned grocer faces complaints about strategy from its ‘partners’
Ingram Pinn’s illustration of the week: Special relationships
Macron’s ‘dandruff’ moment
Rein in Facebook like we did AT&T
The 1956 consent decree that forced Ma Bell to share patents is a smart way to go
FTfm: Some of Puerto Rico’s bondholders will be crushed
The US government will not indefinitely underwrite the island’s access to capital
Undercover Economist: Treat social media like email and search engines
Imagine a portable profile that we could take seamlessly from one provider to another
Executive pay reform is harder to introduce than it should be
Sustainable value lies at the heart of our plan, says remuneration committee chair
As the son of Jamaican immigrants, I can no longer be a Tory
The government’s treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’ is unforgivable
FT View: May, Macron and lessons of Trump diplomacy The French leader shows the way to work with the US president
FT View: Seeing beyond the tired millennial stereotypes Talk of ‘generations’ and their unique characteristics is mostly guff
The Big Read
The Big Read: Playing with fire: Iran deal looms over rising oil price Donald Trump’s threat to put new sanctions on Iran could add to pressure on US consumers
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