Morning Briefing Success Formula: 1 ÷ 2 = 3

CEOs are delivering what their investors want: highly specialized enterprises spun off profitably from conglomerates: VW’s supervisory board plans a comprehensive revision of its compensation rules.

With great hurrah, the West began its “Enduring Freedom” military campaign nearly 16 years ago. “Germany’s security is also being defended in the Hindu Kush,” said Peter Struck, the defense minister at the time. Since then, security and freedom have found no fertile ground in Afghanistan, just the corpses keep piling up. For 2016, the United Nations sadly reported a record number of civilian casualties: 3,489 people killed in a war that apparently the West can’t end. The lesson here: The opposite of good is not good intentions, but death.

Nearly 100 U.S. tech firms, including Apple, Google, Facebook and eBay, have filed a legal brief opposing President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The street demonstrations are moving to the courtroom. That’s what is so special about Capitalism 4.0: It does business with millions of defiant youth, selling not only products, but attitudes too. An old activist slogan is experiencing a renaissance: Where right becomes wrong, resistance becomes a duty.

Speaking of attitudes, VW’s supervisory board plans a comprehensive revision of its compensation rules. Board members’ pay will be capped at €10 million, Handelsblatt has learned. The plan also calls for adding a sustainability factor to eliminate bonus orgies for early heroic deeds deemed missteps after the time premiums have been paid. The end of ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn’s era, with a two-year delay, has also reached the payroll office.

More CEOs are delivering what their investors want: highly specialized enterprises spun off profitably from conglomerates. First Bayer and now Metro are showing how cell division can boost stock prices. The CEOs of Siemens and Deutsche Bank may follow, as we report today. The new success formula success appears to be: 1 ÷ 2 = 3.

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann actually wanted to post a profit for 2016. But the automaker, a General Motors subsidiary, continues to battle problems, as its financial results show today. Opel’s clever advertising campaign “Umparken im Kopf” (Repark Your Mind) hasn’t swayed car buyers to change their preferences. But the powers that be in Detroit shouldn’t lose their nerve: Sometimes profit is just another word for patience.

Precisely because the new America is pushing patriotism and protectionism, we want to signal our support for respect, dialog and fair world trade at the Handelsblatt conference Asia Business Insights today in Düsseldorf. More than 600 guests have registered for the 300 seats available in the Hyatt Hotel conference room. But that’s no reason for despair: You can learn what HSBC’s group chief executive, Henkel’s new CEO, ambassadors from Russia, India and China as well as former foreign minister Joschka Fischer have to say via Handelsblatt and Facebook and by following us on Twitter at #asiabusiness. For the conference, the great Chinese reformer Deng Xiaoping comes to mind: “Seek truth from facts.”

Image of the Day

Gun salutes have rung out at the Tower of London to commemorate the Queen's Sapphire Jubilee, marking her 65 years on the throne. The 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth II yesterday became the first British monarch to reach a sapphire jubilee.