Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 17, 2022

The FDA, Abbott agree to speed reopening of baby formula plant, Musk says Twitter deal can't move forward without fake-account data, and more

1

FDA, Abbott reach agreement to reopen baby formula plant

The Food and Drug Administration and Abbott Nutrition reached an agreement Monday aiming to help speed up the reopening of the company's shuttered baby formula plant. The FDA said Abbott might be able to resume production at the Sturgis, Michigan, facility in two weeks. The factory has been shut down since February, when a potentially deadly bacteria was detected on equipment following illnesses and two deaths among babies who consumed formula produced there. The reopening deal is part of an effort to ease a nationwide shortage of baby formula that is stoking alarm and hardship for parents. The FDA said Monday it would make it easier to import some infant formulas from abroad.

2

Musk: Twitter deal can't 'move forward' without data on fake accounts 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday that Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal "publicly refused to show proof" that fewer than 5 percent of the social media platform's accounts are fake, and said his $44 billion bid to buy Twitter "cannot move forward until he does." Musk claims 20 percent or more of Twitter accounts could be fake or spam accounts, possibly more. Agrawal on Monday defended Twitter's effort to crack down on bots. He said the company suspends more than half a million accounts daily, and locks millions of suspected fake accounts until they are verified. "Spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business," Agrawal posted Monday.

3

JetBlue attempts hostile takeover of Spirit

JetBlue on Monday launched a hostile takeover bid for Spirit Airlines. Spirit rejected a $3.7 billion offer from JetBlue two weeks ago, arguing that regulators were unlikely to approve the deal and sticking with an earlier agreement to merge with fellow discount carrier Frontier Airlines. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a March 29 letter to Spirit that a tie-up would "create a leading player best positioned to serve our customers by offering increased flight schedules and more competitive fares." JetBlue's original offer was for $33 per share. It now is offering shareholders $30 per share and urging them to vote against the Frontier deal. Spirit shares closed at $16.90 on Monday.

4

Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba

The Biden administration announced Monday that it will ease restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration. The State Department said it would lift a $1,000-per-quarter limit on money families can send to their relatives in Cuba, and allow non-family remittances to help Cuban entrepreneurs establish and maintain independent businesses. The U.S. will also permit passenger flights to locations other than Havana, increase visa processing, and revive the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the moves would "support Cubans' aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home."

5

Stock futures rise ahead of retail sales data

U.S. stock futures jumped early Tuesday after Monday's volatile trading and ahead of fresh retail sales data. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were up 1.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively, at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were up 2.2 percent. Home Depot shares gained 4 percent in pre-market trading after the company reported its strongest first-quarter sales on record and raised its full-year outlook. The Dow rose just under 0.1 percent on Monday. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent, while the Nasdaq plunged 1.2 percent as technology stocks continued to lose ground amid rising interest rates.

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