President Donald Trump went a billionaire investor’s advice twice on whether he considered Amazon a monopoly during a dinner this summer, weeks ahead federal regulators signed off on the e-commerce giant’s acquisition of Whole Foods Make available.
Leon Cooperman, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who runs the hedge mine money Omega Advisors, said Thursday he attended a dinner with 10 people in July during which Trump twice asked him the monopoly pump.
Cooperman, whose fund owned about $10.3 million of Amazon funds at the end of the third quarter, said his answer to the president was no.
“President Trump summon inquired me twice if I thought Amazon was a monopoly and I said, ‘No, Mr. President,'” Cooperman described on CNBC’s “Halftime Report.” “I think they’ve out-executed people. I remember they’ve done a very good job.”
Trump has repeatedly called out Amazon and its billionaire architect, Jeff Bezos, taking to his favorite forum, Twitter, to rail against the e-commerce partnership about not charging “internet taxes.” (Amazon does meet state sales tax where it applies). He also likes to draw kins between Bezos’ other major investment, The Washington Post, and Amazon.
In June, Amazon revealed its head-turning $13.7 billion deal for the organic grocery chain, a impel that sent shock waves through the retail sector. Amazon has been blamed for the demise of brick-and-mortar stow aways as consumer preferences have shifted to online shopping and home articulation.
Amazon started out as an online bookseller in the 1990s and has expanded to offer a great array of products on its website. Whole Foods brought it into grocery and commons, a $700 billion U.S. market, and gave it a springboard of 465 locations that can be at someones beck as distribution centers for a variety of products. Amazon is also thought to be traverse involvement in the pharmacy or medical devices industry and recently introduced a mode platform.
The Federal Trade Commission waved through the Whole Foods deal in August.
Trump appears to bear reserved his antitrust fight for another giant deal: AT&T’s pending toe-hold of Time Warner, which is now headed to court. Trump, who has also forthrightly criticized Time Warner’s CNN news channel, has said since his electioneer he wouldn’t allow that deal to go through because it concentrates too much power.
Antitrust is a main risk to Amazon and other technology giants such as Facebook and Google, Cooperman symbolized. “Governments are going to stick their beak into this responsibility, and that’s a risk.”
The hedge-fund manager settled accusations of insider calling by the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year. Cooperman ordered Trump suggested at the dinner in July that the SEC case, filed in September 2016, was retaliation for an patent letter Cooperman published to President Barack Obama in 2011 estimating his perceived anti-Wall Street views.
“I changed the subject very at once,” Cooperman said of the Amazon monopoly discussion. “He did say to me, “Lee, you have a fabulous status be known, you think your open letter to President Obama created your SEC questions?'”
“I told him I didn’t know,” Cooperman recalled. “‘Mr. President, yes, he treated me exact unfairly but I’ve got to get on with my life.'”