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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to depart Facebook board of directors

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Reed Hastings, chairman, president and CEO of Netflix Inc.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Reed Hastings, chairman, president and CEO of Netflix Inc.

Facebook on Friday said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will not be nominated for re-election at the company’s 2019 annual stockholders meetings.

Hastings has served on the board of the social media company since 2011. The company said it will also not be re-nominating Erskine Bowles the president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, and it will instead nominate Peggy Alford, PayPal senior vice president of core markets.

“Reed has served on the board since 2011 (8 years), and we thank him for his service,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.

The addition of Alford, an African-American woman, comes as Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies strive for the inclusion of more women and minorities in their boards and throughout their workforces.

“Peggy is one of those rare people who’s an expert across many different areas — from business management to finance operations to product development,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. “I know she will have great ideas that help us address both the opportunities and challenges facing our company.”

Hastings departure had been talked about for some time due to Facebook’s growing interest in video services, according to Andrew Ross Sorkin. In 2017, Facebook launched Watch, its video streaming service, and last year, the company released IGTV, its Instagram video streaming app.

Hastings’ departure comes about three years after he got into a tussle with fellow board member Peter Thiel over their political leanings. In an August 2016 email, Hastings told Thiel that he planned to dock his performance review over his endorsement of then Republican Presidential-nominee Donald Trump, according to a New York Times report.

“I’m so mystified by your endorsement of Trump for our President, that for me it moves from ‘different judgment’ to ‘bad judgment,'” Hastings reportedly told Thiel in the email. “Some diversity in views is healthy, but catastrophically bad judgment (in my view) is not what anyone wants in a fellow board member.”

WATCH: Here’s how to see which apps have access to your Facebook data — and cut them off



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A former Abu Dabhi CIO Paul O’Brien sees big role for ESG investing

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Investors will soon apply environmental, social and governance standards to global governments as the role of ethics grows in the investing world, according to Paul O’Brien, the former deputy CIO of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, which manages more than $700 billion in assets.

“People [are] taking a more ethical approach to their investing. That has been more tied to environmental issues, primarily in Europe and the United States,” O’Brien told CNBC on the sidelines of the Ned Davis Research conference earlier this month. “But, really, ethics applies to countries, too.”

One example of this was seen earlier this year. Pharo Management, a UK-based hedge fund, returned $300 million to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi government, Bloomberg News reported.

The report, which cited a person familiar with the matter, said founder Guillaume Fonkenell told some of the fund’s investors he gave back the money as a matter of principle. Pharo Management declined CNBC’s request to comment.

“I suspect we will see more of that,” O’Brien said. “It’s not confined to Saudi Arabia. You might be concerned about any number of countries. You might be concerned about Venezuela, Israel, you might be concerned about the United States, depending on where you are.”

The popularity around ESG investing — which refers to making investments that could lead to a positive impact in society — led to record inflows into so-called sustainable funds last year, according to Morningstar data. The numbers show investors pushed nearly $5.5 billion into these funds, bringing their assets under management to $89 billion.

Critics of ESG investing argue that, while taking into account these factors can mitigate investment risk, it can also lead to lower investment returns.

But O’Brien thinks ESG will become more popular moving forward, particularly as it relates to the actions of sovereign governments and how investors react to them.

“The world is breaking up a little bit. You’re getting this multi-polar world; countries are going in different directions in things like technology, internet privacy, even economic and political systems. So, that’s going to be an interesting challenge for investors,” he said.

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There is still a risk of no-deal Brexit despite delay

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Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission during a news conference in Strasbourg, France, on Monday, March 11, 2019.

Alex Kraus | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, with Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission during a news conference in Strasbourg, France, on Monday, March 11, 2019.

There is a still a concern that Britain may leave the European Union without a deal to smooth the way, the bloc’s chief executive said on Saturday, urging Britain to take advantage of a six-month delay to work out the details of its departure.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made the comments in an interview with German newspaper Funke Mediengruppe, a week after EU leaders gave Britain six months more to exit the EU.

“Nobody knows how Brexit will end. This is creating great uncertainty. There is still a fear that there will be a hard Brexit without any withdrawal treaty arrangements,” Juncker said, citing the long-term negative impact on Europe’s economy.

Even though the extension to Oct. 31 offers little clarity on when, how or even if Brexit will happen, Britain should use the time wisely, he said.

“I hope that the British will make use of this time and not waste it again. We cannot keep on putting off the withdrawal date indefinitely. The best solution would be for the British to adopt the Withdrawal Agreement during the extra time that has been agreed,” Juncker said.

The withdrawal deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU has been rejected three times by the British parliament. Juncker, who is scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 meeting in Osaka in June, predicted a “lively discussion” ahead.

“The last discussion lasted 6 hours and it is good that you were not there,” Juncker said, referring to raised voices at his last talks with Trump.

Trade relations between the United States and the EU have soured in recent months after Washington hit the bloc with tariffs and threatened more. Asked about possible new tariffs ahead of the G20 meeting, Juncker counselled patience.

He called on Germany and other countries to spend more to boost growth in the bloc, which is expected to see a slowing economy, a day after German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz ruled out taking on new debt to stimulate his country’s anaemic growth.

“However, Germany should use its financial leeway to further reduce public debt and boost investment. This also includes eliminating bureaucratic hurdles,” Juncker said.

He also cautioned there was a risk of foreign manipulation around next month’s European Parliament elections where eurosceptic groups are expected to gain ground.

With Britain expected to take part, the proportion of the assembly’s seats held by eurosceptics is seen rising to 14.3 percent from around 10 percent currently, according to the compilation of national polls commissioned by the European Parliament.

“I can see an attempt to rig the European Parliament elections. This comes from several quarters, and not only from outside the EU. States within the EU are also seeking to direct the will of voters in a particular direction with fake news,” Juncker said, adding that the Commission was ready to deal with the issue.

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WeChat online petition support for woman suing CEO

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Hundreds of people have added their names to an online petition in support of a University of Minnesota student who said she was raped last August by Richard Liu, the chief executive officer of China’s e-commerce retailer JD.com.

The student, Liu Jingyao, from China, filed a civil lawsuit against JD’s CEO in a Minneapolis court on Tuesday, nearly four months after prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against him.

The law suit identified the student for the first time. The two Lius are not related.

Richard Liu, through his lawyers, maintained his innocence throughout the law enforcement investigation, which ended in December. The company did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

It was unclear who launched the petition, which carried the hashtag #HereForJingyao, although signatories included Chinese students at foreign universities as well as in China.

On Saturday, it was gathering momentum on the social media platform WeChat, with more than 500 names attached.

“To Liu Jingyao: You are not alone. We believe in survivors, we believe in your bravery and honesty, we will always stand with you. We must join hands and march together in the face of the challenge of a culture of blaming the victims of rape,” the petition said.

A Chinese-language translation of the indictment was also circulating online.

Liu Jingyao first accused Richard Liu of rape in August when he was visiting the University of Minnesota to attend a program directed at executives from China.

Liu, 46, who started JD.com as a humble electronics stall and expanded it into an e-commerce company with 2018 net revenues of $67 billion, was arrested on Aug. 31 but released without charge about 17 hours later.

A fledgling #MeToo-style movement in support of women’s rights has been slow to gain wide traction in China, where issues like sexual assault have traditionally been brushed under the carpet.

China’s ruling Communist Party, wary about grassroots organizing, has also in recent months put pressure on activistsfocused on issues like sexual assault on campuses and workers’ rights.

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