The daily business briefing: July 19, 2021

Zoom reaches $14.7 billion deal to acquire Five9, OPEC and Russia agree to increase oil production, and more

Zoom logo.
(Image credit: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Zoom to acquire Five9 in $14.7 billion deal

Zoom Video Communications said Sunday it had reached a $14.7 billion all-stock deal to acquire Five9 Inc., a cloud-based customer-service software provider. Zoom has seen explosive growth during the pandemic as people used it to meet online for work, education, and socializing. The acquisition is the video conferencing company's biggest ever, following the purchases of several office collaboration products, a cloud phone system, and an all-in-one home communications appliance in the past year. The latest acquisition will help Zoom expand its services to businesses and tap into the $24 billion contact-center market. The centers provide agents to answer questions from customers and have become increasingly popular among companies during the pandemic.

TechCrunch The Wall Street Journal

2. OPEC, Russia agree to increase oil production

OPEC and oil-producing allies led by Russia agreed Sunday to increase daily oil production by 400,000 barrels a day. The move will restore capacity the producers cut when demand plummeted at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The deal came as many economies around the world are recovering following a drop in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Oil prices had been rising as the loosening of coronavirus restrictions caused demand to rebound, but prices started easing recently in anticipation of a deal to increase production. Brent, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate have dropped by about 5 percent from recent multiyear highs in recent days.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. Reuters: J&J explores plan to offload Baby Powder liabilities

Johnson & Johnson is considering shifting liabilities from widespread Baby Powder litigation to a new business that would then file for bankruptcy protection, Reuters reported Sunday, citing seven people familiar with the matter. The company faces lawsuits filed by women who say J&J's talc caused their ovarian cancer. One of the healthcare giant's lawyers reportedly told plaintiffs' lawyers about the plan, which could reduce the size of payments in cases not settled before such a move. J&J has not made a final decision on whether to pursue the bankruptcy plan, and still might decide against it, Reuters reported. The J&J subsidiary responsible for the company's talc products said it had "not decided on any particular course of action in this litigation."


4. Stock futures fall after 1st down week in 4

U.S. stock index futures dropped early Monday as inflation fears intensified. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down by 1 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell by 0.8 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The declines came after Wall Street's first negative week in four. On Friday, a U.S. consumer confidence index from the University of Michigan indicated that consumers expect prices to rise 4.8 percent in the next year, which would be the sharpest rise since August 2008. This week, the markets could get direction from corporate earnings, as nine Dow components and 76 S&P companies report quarterly updates.


5. U.S. father and son sentenced in Japan for helping Ghosn escape

A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced an American father and son to prison for helping former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn escape to Lebanon before his scheduled trial in Japan for alleged financial crimes. Michael Taylor received a two-year sentence, and his son Peter was sentenced to one year and eight months for their roles in the December 2019 escape. Ghosn hid inside a large box used for audio equipment that was flown out of the country on a private jet. The defense argued that the Taylors were used by Ghosn. Chief Judge Hideo Nirei said they committed a serious crime, no matter who was making the decisions. The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts last year and extradited to Japan.

The Associated Press

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.