Axios Closer

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Thursday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 686 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 1.2%.

  • Biggest gainer? Conagra Brands (+5.4%), the packaged foods company, beat top- and bottom-line expectations for its fiscal Q3.
  • Biggest decliner? Lamb Weston (-19.4%), the supplier of frozen french fries, disappointed investors with its Q3 earnings and revenue.

1 big thing: Indirect investments

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Government pension funds throughout the country have a stake in the future of TikTok, according to a new analysis.

Why it matters: Congress is considering legislation that would force China-based ByteDance to sell the social entertainment app's U.S. operation or shut it down. President Biden has said he would sign it.

State of play: At least 21 state and local retirement funds have an indirect investment in ByteDance, according to the Equable Institute, a bipartisan nonprofit that provides research on pensions.

  • Most of those are via private equity holdings, an asset class that makes up about 17% of public pension assets overall, according to actuarial firm Milliman.

Between the lines: The Equable list, which is based on publicly available reports, is not comprehensive. The ByteDance backers include:

  • Retiree funds in Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Virginia.

What they're saying: "They're all over the country in every political flavor that our country has to offer," Equable executive director Anthony Randazzo tells Axios.

  • Determining the value of the ByteDance investments is independently unachievable. But in most cases, the public pension funds provided about $50 million–$100 million to the private equity investors to allocate how they see fit, Randazzo says.

Reality check: In no case do the ByteDance investments represent more than a sliver of each pension fund's overall assets.

The big picture: Institutional investors, like pension funds, have been facing political pressure to stop making investments deemed by activists as problematic.

2. Charted: New ports of call

Data: Project44; Chart: Axios Visuals

Logistics managers have been scrambling to reroute container ships after the Port of Baltimore was temporarily shuttered following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Why it matters: The port is one of the busiest shipping destinations in the country.

By the numbers: Norfolk, Virginia, is fielding about 4 in 10 containers that would've otherwise gone to Baltimore, according to shipping tracker Project44.

  • New York is second with about 1 in 4.

What to watch: The Port of Baltimore is "preparing to establish a temporary alternate channel" in the vicinity of the bridge for "commercially essential vessels."

3. What's happening

⚾️ The Oakland Athletics will play at a minor league stadium in Sacramento, California, from at least 2025 through 2027. (ESPN)

💵 Retailers like Peloton, Saks, Express and Bath & Body Works have been later than usual on vendor payments over the last few months. (CNBC)

4. Ford delays new EVs

A Ford Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle charging. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

Ford today said it's delaying new electric vehicles as consumer adoption trails expectations.

Between the lines: Ford said it will push back the launch of a new EV pickup from 2025 to 2026 and new three-row SUV EVs from 2025 to 2027.

  • "The additional time will allow for the consumer market for three-row EVs to further develop and enable Ford to take advantage of emerging battery technology, with the goal to provide customers increased durability and better value," the company said in a statement.

The big picture: The announcement comes two days after Tesla reported a surprisingly steep slump in first-quarter sales, underscoring the broader challenges for the EV market.

  • Smaller companies are also running into a wall, as EV startup Fisker is reportedly weighing a bankruptcy filing.

Yes, but: Ford said it's continuing construction on several new facilities that will build or design future EVs and components.

5. 🎸 Kiss cashes in

Kiss performs on "Dancing with the Stars." Photo: Adam Taylor/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Kiss can "Rock and Roll All Nite" after the band became the latest musical artist to sell its catalog for a windfall.

Zoom in: The band sold its catalog, brand name and IP to Sweden-based Pophouse Entertainment Group in a deal believed to be worth more than $300 million, AP reports.

  • "The goal of the purchase is to expose Kiss to new generations," AP reports, citing Pophouse CEO Per Sundin.

💭 Nathan's thought bubble: That should pay for a lifetime supply of black-and-white face paint.

Flashback: Hope's 2022 story on how music sounds like money to Wall Street.

6. What they're saying

"What's with the random blue check I didn't ask for or pay for?"
— MSNBC host Katie Phang, on X, after she became one of an unknown number of previously verified Twitter accounts to become verified again.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

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