Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 27, 2018

Comcast challenges Fox's takeover bid for Sky, FedEx resists pressure to cut ties with the NRA, and more

1

Comcast challenges Fox's takeover bid for Sky

U.S. cable giant Comcast has made an unsolicited $31 billion takeover bid for European TV giant Sky, challenging an existing offer from media mogul Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox. Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, made an all-cash offer of $17.45 per share, marking a 16 percent premium over Fox's $15.01 per share bid for the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own. Fox's Sky bid has faced resistance from U.K. competition regulators, who in January provisionally found the deal would not serve the public interest. Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said Sky, with 23 million European customers, could serve as "a platform for growth in Europe." Sky shares rose by 18 percent to more than $18 a share on the news.

2

FedEx resists pressure to cut ties with NRA

FedEx said Monday that it would not bow to public pressure to end its business relationship with the National Rifle Association. The package delivery company said it offers discounted shipping rates through hundreds of organizations, and has "never set or changed rates for any of our millions of customers around the world in response to their politics, beliefs, or positions on issues." FedEx said that despite its decision it supports restrictions on assault-style weapons, which the NRA opposes. The announcement came after numerous companies canceled partnerships with the NRA in response to the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Conservatives in Georgia's Senate on Monday threatened to kill a tax break for Delta Air Lines over its decision to stop offering flight discounts to NRA members.

3

German court rules cities can ban diesel vehicles

Germany's highest administrative court ruled Tuesday that cities can ban diesel cars from some streets to improve air quality in congested areas. The decision marked a potentially major blow to the country's powerful auto industry, which invested heavily in diesel technology it marketed as environmentally friendly until Volkswagen got caught rigging emissions tests. Deutsche Umwelthilfe, an environmental and consumer rights organization, got the lawsuits started when it took two cities to court for failing to do enough to fight emissions that exceeded air pollution limits. The court's ruling does not ban diesel cars, it just says cities have the right to ban certain vehicles, primarily diesel-powered ones, from streets in areas with bad air quality.

4

U.S. stocks start week with gains but futures edge down before Powell testimony

U.S. stocks made strong gains on Monday, as global stocks continued to climb back from a 10 percent correction a month ago. The S&P 500 gained 1.2 percent, led by telecommunications and technology stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also picked up 1.2 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite rose by 1.1 percent. All three of the major U.S. indexes finished the day within 3.4 percent of the record highs they set before the correction. "I think you can very confidently say the worst is over for now," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. The U.S. indexes edged lower early Tuesday as investors braced for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's first appearance before lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

5

Appeals court says law against sex bias protects gay employees

A U.S. appeals court ruled Monday that a federal law banning workplace sex bias prohibits discrimination against gay workers. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became the second court to declare that gay employees are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, overruling prior decisions. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit by the estate of Donald Zarda, a former skydiving instructor, who said he was fired after telling a customer he was gay, and she complained. Zarda later died in a BASE-jumping accident. His former employer, Altitude Express, argued that Congress did not consider applying the law to sexual orientation when the law was passed 50 years ago.

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