The daily business briefing: February 23, 2018
Several companies cut NRA partnerships, Toys "R" Us could close 200 more stores, and more
Bank and car-rental companies end partnerships with NRA
Three major car-rental brands, and First National Bank of Omaha, said Thursday they were ending partnerships with the National Rifle Association as protests against the gun-rights lobbying group and in favor of tougher gun control grew louder. "Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card," spokesperson Kevin Langin said in a statement. Enterprise Holdings Inc., parent company of the Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental brands, said that on March 26 it was ending a program that gave NRA members discounts.
FCC publishes rules to repeal net neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday formally published its new rules to scrap net neutrality, the Obama-era policy designed to guarantee free and open access to the internet. Democrats have vowed to push for Congress to block the regulations from taking effect, and a coalition of 22 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia on Thursday refiled their legal challenges to the rules. The Republican-led FCC voted 3-2 in December to overturn the net neutrality rules, which barred service providers from blocking or slowing access for some users, or charging more for a "fast lane" for internet traffic.
China seizes Anbang Insurance Group
China's government on Friday seized control of Anbang Insurance Group, known for aggressively buying foreign assets, including New York's landmark Waldorf Astoria hotel. The China Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a statement announcing the seizure that Anbang had violated laws and regulations that "may seriously endanger the solvency of the company." The regulator and prosecutors said Anbang's chairman and key shareholder, Wu Xiaohui, had been prosecuted for fundraising fraud and abuse of his position. The unprecedented seizure of such a large non-state company demonstrated Beijing's willingness to take drastic measures to reduce financial risks.
SpaceX launches first satellites for Starlink internet network
SpaceX launched two experimental satellites on Thursday that will serve as the foundation for its Starlink network, a "low-Earth satellite constellation" that will include thousands of spacecraft intended to provide broadband internet service to people around the world. The network is designed to include thousands of spacecraft once it's finished. "First two Starlink demo satellites, called Tintin A & B, deployed and communicating to Earth stations," SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeted after the launch. SpaceX sent the satellites into orbit as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 rocket that blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX aims to have Starlink operating on a limited basis by 2020.
Toys 'R' Us plan would close another 200 stores
Toys "R" Us might close 200 or more stores, nearly half its remaining locations, as part of its effort to climb out of bankruptcy, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The company already has announced plans to close 180 stores, affecting 4,500 workers. The struggling toy retailer filed for bankruptcy protection last year, and weak sales in the crucial holiday shopping season made its dire situation worse. "If you look at the numbers, it doesn't look good," said Richard Gottlieb, an analyst and the publisher of Global Toy News. "And it appears that some dramatic action is going to have to take place."