Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 25, 2022

Pfizer says it will offer drugs and vaccines at low cost in poorer nations, Airbnb ends rentals in China, and more

1

Pfizer to offer 23 drugs, vaccines at low cost in poorer countries

Pfizer said Wednesday it will sell 23 products, including its COVID-19 vaccine, at not-for-profit prices to some of the world's poorest countries. The drugmaker said it will charge only enough to cover manufacturing and "minimal" distribution costs for the drugs, which will also include its COVID treatment Paxlovid. Pfizer — which announced the program at the World Economic Forum's annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland — said the other drugs would include medicines and vaccines to treat infectious diseases, cancers, and other conditions. The initiative is part of an effort to increase health equity in 45 countries, mostly in Africa but also including Haiti, Syria, Cambodia, and North Korea.

2

Airbnb halts rentals in China

Airbnb will stop offering homes and experiences inside China and instead focus on helping Chinese tourists find accommodations in other countries, an Airbnb official said Tuesday. The announcement also confirmed a Monday report by CNBC that Airbnb would maintain an office in Beijing with hundreds of employees. San Francisco-based Airbnb launched operations in China in 2016 but has faced increasing domestic competition. The company also saw a sharp drop in bookings due to China's strict COVID-19 lockdowns, which are still affecting many cities. Other foreign internet companies such as Yahoo and eBay previously withdrew from China due to the dual challenges of local rivals and government regulations.

3

FTC examines industry role in baby formula shortage

The Federal Trade Commission announced Tuesday that it is investigating industry's role in the shortage of baby formula in the United States. "The FTC is launching a public inquiry to identify the factors that contributed to the shortage or hampered our ability to respond to it," FTC chairwoman Lina M. Khan said in a statement. "Learning from this experience can help determine how we can minimize the risk of similar shortages in the markets for other life-sustaining products." The agency said it would examine how industry consolidation affected supply, and whether online resellers had taken advantage of the crisis to unfairly profit at the expense of families desperately searching for enough formula to feed their infants.

4

Glencore to pay $1.5 billion to resolve bribery cases

Commodities firm Glencore said Tuesday it will pay $1.5 billion in penalties to resolve corruption allegations in the U.S., Britain, and Brazil. The company said $700 million would go to settling a bribery inquiry in the U.S. Another $486 million will resolve market manipulation allegations, and $166 million in fines are earmarked for an investigation by the British Serious Fraud Office. Glencore has indicated it will plead guilty to U.K. bribery charges next month. The Anglo-Swiss company also agreed to pay $40 million in a Brazil bribery case. The U.S. Justice Department said its case against Glencore involved a "decade-long scheme" to "make and conceal corrupt payments and bribes" in Africa and Latin America.

5

Stock futures rise slightly after another Nasdaq plunge

U.S. stock futures edged higher early Wednesday morning after the tech-heavy Nasdaq plunged Tuesday as social-media company Snap's warning of slowing growth dragged down internet stocks. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and were flat. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were up about 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. The Nasdaq fell 2.4 percent on Tuesday. The S&P 500 fell 0.8 percent, but the Dow gained 0.2 percent after trading lower earlier in the day. Snap shares plummeted by 43 percent after it said it would miss earnings and revenue targets, fueling concerns about digital advertising. Shares of Facebook parent Meta, Google parent Alphabet, and Twitter all fell 5 percent or more.

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