Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 29, 2017

Uber sells a major stake to Softbank, Apple apologizes for slowing down old iPhones, and more

1

Uber sells a 15 percent stake to Softbank

Uber on Thursday sold a major stake to a group led by Japanese technology conglomerate Softbank in a deal valuing the ride-hailing company at $48 billion, down from its $68 billion valuation in June 2016. Softbank, which is investing $7 billion, will acquire 15 percent of Uber, while its co-investors will get just under 3 percent. Uber said it expected the transaction "to support our technology investments, fuel our growth, and strengthen our corporate governance." The deal will give Uber and its shareholders cash ahead of its initial public offering of stock, planned for 2019, and help stabilize the company after a year of infighting and scandal that led to the resignation of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.

2

Apple apologizes for slowing down old iPhones

Apple on Thursday apologized after acknowledging earlier this month that it slowed down older-model iPhones. The company said it would temporarily slash the price of a battery replacement from $79 to $29 in January for customers with an iPhone 6 or later that is out of warranty. Apple also said it will release a software update that will let users see if their battery is affecting the performance of their phone. Apple faced a backlash after revealing two weeks ago that it had issued a software update that prevented iPhones with aging lithium batteries from shutting down without warning. The update can make apps open much slower, but Apple denied it was trying to shorten the life of their products to get people to pay for upgrades.

3

Appeals court rules against bakers who refused lesbian couple's wedding cake order

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a $135,000 fine against bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein said in 2013 that they wouldn't bake a cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, because same-sex marriage ran counter to their Christian beliefs. The Bowman-Cryers said in a complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that the bakers, owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa, were violating state law by discriminating against them due to their sexual orientation. An administrative law judge sided with them, and the state labor commissioner affirmed heavy damages against the bakers for causing the couple emotional and mental distress.

4

China offers companies tax breaks to counter U.S. cuts

China announced late Thursday that it was offering foreign companies a break on Chinese taxes in a bid to hold onto their investments in the country in the face of U.S. corporate tax cuts just passed by congressional Republicans. The move marked Beijing's first response to the U.S. tax overhaul. It came after Chinese leaders made numerous promises to increase slowing growth by giving foreign companies greater access to more industries in China. Foreign companies will get exemptions from withholding taxes on profits reinvested in certain Chinese industries. The break will be retroactive to the start of 2017, so companies could receive refunds.

5

Stock futures rise putting fresh records in range on 2017's last trading day

U.S. stock futures gained early Friday, giving the three main benchmark indexes a shot at posting fresh record highs on the last trading day of 2017. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.2 percent after Thursday's 0.3 percent gain, which gave the Dow its 71st record high of 2017. The Dow is now up by just over 25 percent on the year. S&P 500 futures rose by 0.3 percent early Friday after a 0.1 percent gain on Thursday left the index just short of a record after gaining 20 percent on the year. Nasdaq-100 futures were up 0.2 percent on Friday after a 0.2 percent gain a day earlier. The Nasdaq has risen by 29 percent this year.

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