Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 1, 2017

Exxon shareholders call for transparency on climate costs, Apple prepares to unveil its own smart speaker, and more

1

Exxon shareholders call for more transparency on climate costs

ExxonMobil shareholders approved a measure Wednesday calling for the massive oil company to be more transparent about the costs to the company of complying with global requirements on reducing pollution linked to climate change. The proposal passed with the support of 62 percent of shareholders in a rare defeat for management. The proposal was non-binding, but Exxon CEO Darren Woods said the company would reconsider how it communicates about climate change after the vote.

2

Apple gearing up to unveil a Siri smart speaker

Apple is working on a Siri-controlled smart speaker to rival Amazon's Echo and Alphabet's Google Home, and could unveil the product as soon as its annual developer conference in June, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The device reportedly will distinguish itself from competitors with virtual surround sound technology, and integration with Apple's other products and services, which are mostly not supported by Echo and Google Home. The Apple smart speaker will help the company win over subscribers for such offerings as Apple Music, instead of rival services such as Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, or Google Play that they can use on Echo and Google Home, analysts said. "This will be a platform for developing Apple's services," said Loup Ventures co-founder Gene Munster, a former Apple analyst.

3

Chinese maker of Ivanka Trump shoes denies labor violation accusation

The Chinese company that manufactures shoes for Ivanka Trump and other U.S. brands on Thursday denied claims by activists that it violates Chinese labor laws by denying workers overtime pay and subjecting them to verbal abuse. The allegations came to light after reports this week that three activists who uncovered the alleged practices for the New York-based China Labor Watch had been arrested or disappeared while conducting an undercover investigation of the company, Huajian Group. A spokeswoman for the company said the allegations of labor violations were "untrue," and that at least one of the activists was detained because he "used methods like taking photographs and video to obtain the company's trade secrets." The spokeswoman said the company stopped making Ivanka Trump shoes two months ago. Ivanka Trump's brand declined to comment on the case.

4

Ohio attorney general sues drug companies over opioid crisis

The state of Ohio filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against five major drug manufacturers — Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan — accusing the companies of fueling the opioid crisis. "We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales," state Attorney General Mike DeWine said. "And boy, did they increase sales." A spokeswoman for Janssen called the lawsuit, the second to be filed by a state over the epidemic, "legally and factually unfounded."

5

Uber loss narrows in first quarter

Uber said Wednesday that it lost $708 million in the first quarter on $3.4 billion in revenue, narrowing its loss of $991 million in the previous quarter on $2.9 billion in revenue. A spokesman said the results showed the ride-hailing service was on a "good trajectory" toward profitability. "These results demonstrate that our business remains healthy and resilient as we focus on improving our culture, management and relationship with drivers," the spokesman said in a statement. The company also said head of finance Gautam Gupta is leaving in July, the latest in a series of departures by about a dozen top executives, as the company struggles to contend with negative reports about its corporate culture.

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