Business briefing

The daily business briefing: April 28, 2017

United Airlines reaches settlement with passenger dragged off plane, Obamas make debut on paid-speaking circuit, and more

1

United Airlines reaches settlement with passenger dragged off plane

United Airlines has reached an amicable settlement with Dr. David Dao, the passenger who was forcibly removed from his seat and dragged bleeding off a flight in Chicago to make room for a crew member from a partner airline, Dao's lawyers said Thursday. The news came as United released the results of its investigation into the April 9 incident. The report said United employees had made several mistakes, including calling in Chicago aviation police when there was no safety or security threat. "This is a turning point for all of us at United and it signals a culture shift toward becoming a better, more customer-focused airline," CEO Oscar Munoz said. "Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

2

Obamas make debut on paid-speaking circuit

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama made their first appearances on the lucrative paid-speaking circuit on Thursday. The former president addressed A&E cable network employees with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Michelle Obama participated in a question-and-answer session before the American Institute of Architecture's annual conference. Their fees were not immediately made public, but the former president will be receiving $400,000 for a September speech at a health-care conference sponsored by investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald. That sum resulted in some criticism. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she was "troubled" by the news because of her concern over Wall Street's influence in Washington. Barack Obama's senior adviser, Eric Schultz, defended the speaking schedule, saying that the former president will "deliver speeches from time to time," some paid and some unpaid, and "regardless of venue or sponsor, President Obama will be true to his values, his vision, and his record.

3

Amazon cloud business fuels huge jump in profits

Amazon reported Thursday that its quarterly profit increased by 41 percent early this year thanks to strong growth in its highly profitable cloud business, advertising, and subscription services. Amazon's profit reached $1.48 per share, up from $1.07 per share a year earlier, in the eighth straight profitable quarter for the world's largest online retailer. Those earnings smashed analysts' predictions of $1.12 per share. Amazon's revenue was already climbing thanks to an overall shift to online shopping. Now, said Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian, "subscription services and advertising are growing much faster, and beginning to move the needle, which also helps increase profit margins."

4

Trump threatens to pull out of 'horrible' South Korea trade pact

President Trump on Thursday threatened to pull out of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement with South Korea, calling it a "Hillary Clinton disaster" and a "horrible" deal for the U.S. "We've told them that we'll either terminate or negotiate" the agreement, which was ratified in 2011, Trump told The Washington Post. Trump also said he wanted to charge Seoul for using the U.S. THAAD missile-defense system, an idea South Korea rejected. "I said, 'Why are we paying? Why are we paying a billion dollars? We're protecting. Why are we paying a billion dollars?'" Trump told Reuters. The U.S. is almost done installing THAAD to protect South Korea from a North Korean missile strike.

5

Alphabet shares jump as Google profit soars on mobile ad growth

Shares of Google parent Alphabet rose by 4 percent in pre-market trading on Friday after the company reported a 29 percent surge in quarterly profit as its advertising profit continued to grow and the company aggressively shifted its focus to mobile ads. The revenue increase exceeded analysts' expectations. "For a company of Google's size to post the growth that it has is just a testament to the quality and usefulness of the products they make," said Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners. "They are the dominant force in digital advertising."

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