Macron’s challenge, Chibok girls meet their president and 3G’s lean, mean machine

Without a legislative majority for his fledgling party, French president Emmanuel Macron may become a prisoner of traditional parties

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As EU leaders sighed with relief at Emmanuel Macron’s emphatic victory in France’s presidential election, Europe’s markets relinquished some of the gains they made ahead of the vote. The CAC 40, France’s benchmark equity index — which had surged more than 6 per cent after Mr Macron won the first round of the election in late April — slid 0.6 per cent after the 39-year-old defeated far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s final round of voting, as it looks to the challenges ahead.

The focus will now shift to how Mr Macron will implement his reform agenda, beginning with June’s legislative elections. Without a majority for his fledgling En Marche! party, the self-styled independent may become a prisoner of traditional parties. The country is also split, with the president-elect’s support coming from the young and highly educated. Still, his achievement is remarkable. Only a year ago, his movement was the subject of bemusement and sneering. Here is what his hometown of Amiens says about him.

Finally, while Ms Le Pen lost, the future of the Front National is bright and France’s far right is anything but finished. (FT, Atlantic, Economist, Guardian)

In the news

Facebook campaigns against fake news With the UK in the throes of a general election campaign, the social network has begun a national print advertising campaign to educate the public about fake news. The full-page ads, which come a month ahead of the vote, offer 10 tips to spot fake news, and are similar to ads placed in Germany and France last month ahead of their elections. (FT)

A fresh start in South Korea Presidential contenders in South Korea had a frantic final day ahead of Tuesday’s election, in which voters hope to put the vast corruption saga that felled former president Park Geun-hye behind them. (FT, NYT)

Akzo Nobel to knock back €26.9bn bid Akzo is set to reveal its rejection of US rival PPG Industries’ takeover offer as early as this week. The rebuff means its suitor will have to choose between making a hostile bid or walking away. (FT)

Chibok girls released Some 82 of the nearly 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Chibok three years ago were released over the weekend in a prisoner swap. They were flown to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, and met with President Muhammadu Buhari before being reunited with their families. (Jazeera)

North Korean contacts In Pyongyang’s first attempt to contact anyone with ties to Washington since US president Donald Trump was elected, a high-ranking North Korean representative is set to meet with a prominent former US government official. (NAR)

It’s a big day for

EU-Mexico trade Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, arrives in Mexico — the bloc’s third-largest trading partner — for talks on modernising the 2000 free-trade pact. The fate of Nafta, the North American trade deal, remains undecided — though Mexico could emerge the winner in renegotiations — and Mexico is keen to seal a revised EU deal in 2017. (CNBC) 

The Trump-Russia probe Sally Yates, the former acting attorney-general, will appear before a US Senate panel, and is expected to provide compelling testimony in the so-far largely secretive investigations into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and links between top Donald Trump aides and Moscow. (WSJ)

Keep up with the important business, economic and political stories in the coming days with the FT’s WeekAhead.

Food for thought

‘Belt and Road’ vision struggles Reality has failed to match China’s grand plan for a trade hub in Qinzhou, southwestern China. Part of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure initiative, it was hailed as a key port for trade with fast-growing economies in Southeast Asia. Five years on, no big vessels call at the port, there are not enough workers and the promised factory hub has yet to appear. (FT)

The great British Brexit robbery Carole Cadwalladr on “how our democracy was hijacked [by] a shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign”. (Guardian)

3G’s lean, mean machine After 3G Capital bought Heinz in 2013, profit margins rocketed by a remarkable 58 per cent. 3G Capital’s reputation for brutal cost-cutting has transformed the beer, fast food and manufacturing industries but at what cost? Founding partner Alex Behring talks about the company’s strategy. (FT)

Why Americans smile so much There is an interesting line of research that helps explain Americans and their stereotypically megawatt smiles. It also reveals how immigration and cultural values affect what people do with their faces. (Atlantic)

Replaced by a robot Industries that robotise tend to increase output, but with dire consequences for workers. A recent study found that jobs and wages have fallen in parts of the US where more robots are installed. (Bloomberg)

Video of the day

The week ahead Seb Morton-Clark takes a look at some of the big stories this week, including the meeting of G7 finance ministers, release of US inflation figures and Toyota’s fourth-quarter results. (FT)


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