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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella named chairman of the board

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Satya Nadella speaking at the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

David A. Grogan | CNBC

Microsoft said Wednesday that CEO Satya Nadella is becoming the chair of the company’s board, replacing independent director John Thompson, following a unanimous vote of the software company’s board.

The change reflects the success Nadella has had in the past seven years making Microsoft more prominent in technology and business altogether.

“In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Under Nadella’s watch Microsoft regained the title of world’s most valuable public company. Today it stands as the second most valuable, only behind Apple, with Microsoft stock having risen more than 600%.

Nadella’s Microsoft has become more focused on cloud computing services to power other company’s applications, and the company has expanded through acquisitions of business social network LinkedIn, source code-sharing site GitHub and video-game developer Zenimax.

Microsoft’s board members gave plaudits to Nadella for his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic in the proxy statement the company filed in December, with the company delivering 14% revenue growth in the 2020 fiscal year, even as the company faced challenges in advertising and other markets. “The board credits Mr. Nadella for his tremendous progress driving cultural change across the organization, especially given the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 on our business and our people,” Microsoft said.

Nadella is one of Microsoft’s top individual shareholders, with more than 1.6 million shares of the company’s stock.

The move came a year after Bill Gates, a co-founder of Microsoft and its first CEO, left the company’s board. Gates stepped down after the board investigated a report that Gates had tried to start an intimate relationship with an employee in 2000, a company spokesperson said.

Thompson, formerly CEO of Symantec, joined Microsoft’s board in 2012 and replaced Gates as Microsoft’s chair in 2014, on the same day Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as the Microsoft CEO.

WATCH: Microsoft, Nuance CEOs on $16B deal, cloud strategy, health-care AI solutions and more

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SEC slaps new disclosure requirements on Chinese IPOs amid Beijing’s crackdown

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People exit the headquarters of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C., May 12, 2021.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday it will require additional disclosures from Chinese companies seeking a listing on U.S. stock exchanges, following Beijing’s intensified crackdown on oversea share issuance.

“In light of the recent developments in China and the overall risks with the China-based [variable interest entities] structure, I have asked staff to seek certain disclosures from offshore issuers associated with China-based operating companies before their registration statements will be declared effective,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement.

The so-called variable interest entities are a structure used by major Chinese companies from Alibaba to JD.com to go public in the U.S. while skirting oversight from Beijing as the country doesn’t allow direct foreign ownership in most cases. These variable interest entities allow China-based operating companies to establish offshore shell companies in another jurisdiction and issue stocks to public shareholders.

Gensler said he worries that “average investors may not realize that they hold stock in a shell company rather than a China-based operating company.”

The SEC will ask Chinese companies to clearly distinguish the shell company’s management services from the operating company, while stating any risk from future actions from the Chinese government.

The move came as Beijing stepped up its oversight on the flood of Chinese listings in the U.S. Ride-hailing app Didi became the latest victim of the clampdown. The stock tumbled nearly 30% this month after Beijing announced a cybersecurity investigation, suspending new user registrations.

The tensions between the two countries could be a huge blow for Chinese companies, which have clamored to list in New York in recent years. In 2020, 30 China-based IPOs in the U.S. raised the most capital since 2014, data from Renaissance Capital shows.

There were at least 248 Chinese companies listed on three major U.S. exchanges with a total market capitalization of $2.1 trillion, according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. There are eight national-level Chinese state-owned enterprises listed in the U.S.

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Scarlett Johansson’s agent slams Disney for lawsuit response

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Scarlett Johansson attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.

David Crotty | Patrick McMullan | Getty Images

“Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson’s powerhouse agent on Friday slammed Walt Disney for accusing the actor of “callous disregard” for the dangers of Covid-19 to the moviegoing public.

Bryan Lourd, who is co-chair of talent agency giant CAA, also suggested Disney was not playing fair by publicly revealing Johansson’s $20 million salary for the Marvel Entertainment movie. That figure had not previously been shared publicly.

Lourd said Disney’s response to Johansson’s lawsuit was “an attempt to make her appear to be someone they and I know she isn’t.”

Disney’s comment came hours after the “Black Widow” star filed a lawsuit against the company Thursday, claiming it had breached her contract when it released the film on its streaming service Disney+ at the same time it debuted in theaters.

“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” Disney said. “The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Johansson, like many Marvel veterans including Robert Downey Jr., negotiated to have a percentage of box-office receipts tacked on to her salary. This has become increasingly common with Marvel Cinematic Universe films because of their theatrical track record.

The Academy Award-nominated actress has starred as Natasha Romanoff in eight Marvel films, which have collectively grossed more than $10.5 billion in global box-office receipts in the last decade.

Only eight of Marvel’s 24 theatrical releases have grossed less than $700 million globally. And only three have secured less than $400 million. On average, these franchise films garner nearly $1 billion globally over the course of their theatrical runs.

So far, “Black Widow” has tallied $150 million during its first three weeks in theaters and a little more than $300 million globally. Its $80 million domestic opening weekend remains the highest opening figure of any film released after March 2020, when many Covid pandemic restrictions hit.

The streaming release of the film ate into box-office profits, though Disney reported “Black Widow” scored $60 million from sales on Disney+ during its opening weekend. The company has not shared additional information about the film’s digital performance. Entertainment experts have also blamed rampant piracy of the film for its steady drop in performance since the release.

While Disney’s decision to put “Black Widow” on Disney+ and in theaters on the same day and date was a strategic move based on pandemic pressures, it is projected to have cost Johansson more than $50 million, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Johansson’s lawsuit claims the actress tried to renegotiate with Disney after she discovered the film would not be released exclusively in theaters, but the studio did not respond.

Representatives from Disney did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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NY’s Broadway, Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall to require vaccines

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If you want to attend a live performance in New York, get ready to show proof you have received your Covid shots.

The Broadway League announced Friday that the owners and operators of all 41 Broadway theaters in New York City will require audience members, performers, backstage crew and theater staff to be fully vaccinated through October.

Young children or those with medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent vaccinations may still attend shows if they have proof of a negative Covid-19 test. They will need a PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative antigen test taken within 6 hours of performance start time in order to be admitted.

“A uniform policy across all New York City Broadway theatres makes it simple for our audiences and should give even more confidence to our guests about how seriously Broadway is taking audience safety,” said Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.

A exterior view of the Palace Theatre at the opening night of “West Side Story” on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on March 19, 2009 in New York City.

Neilson Barnard | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Audiences inside the theater will also be required to wear masks except while eating or drinking in designated areas.

In September, the league will review this policy for performances beginning in November.

The Metropolitan Opera will also require guests, artists, orchestra, chorus, and staff to show proof of vaccination, but face masks will be optional. The opera will ban children under the age of 12 from attending performances.

“The Met policy says that masks will be optional, this could change depending on the prevalent health situation at the time. Also, unlike Broadway, we will allow absolutely no exceptions to the vaccinated only policy,” a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Opera said in an email.

Guests will need to show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theater and they must be fully-vaccinated with a FDA- or WHO-authorized vaccine. This means guests must wait at least two weeks after their final shots to attend a performance.

Carnegie Hall will also be requiring proof of vaccination from all guests, artists, staff and visitors and they will ban children under the age of 12 from attending performances, it said in a statement.

Younger children are not yet eligible for the Covid vaccine.

The new requirements come as the delta variant spreads rapidly across the country, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance encouraging people to begin wearing masks again in areas of the country where there are rises in cases, even if they have been vaccinated. This was a reversal of the agency’s earlier policy.

The CDC is warning that the delta variant is as contagious as the chickenpox and could be making people more sick than the original Covid.

Broadway will begin reopening its doors to full capacity audiences on Sept. 14, after being shut down since March 2020. New York City has lost billions in tourism dollars as live performances were halted on Broadway, at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.

The industry received aid from the government through a program called the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, which allocated $16.2 billion to help keep the entertainment industry throughout the country alive until performances could return to normal safely.

The increase in Covid cases due to the delta variant comes at a precarious time for the industry, which has been investing to rehire performers and other workers in preparation for the restart of performances.

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