Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 8, 2018

Takeda agrees to buy Shire for $62 billion, Comcast aims to upset Disney's deal to acquire 21st Century Fox assets, and more


Takeda agrees to acquire European drugmaker Shire for $62 billion

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. on Tuesday reached an agreement to buy Dublin-based rival Shire PLC for $62 billion, the biggest overseas acquisition ever for a Japanese company. Takeda shares rose by 4 percent Tuesday after the announcement, although they have fallen by more than 16 percent since March, when Takeda first expressed interest in Shire. The combined company would have sales of $30 billion, making it the world's eighth largest drugmaker. Some shareholders expressed concerns that Takeda was overextending itself, and Moody's warned last month that Takeda could face a "multinotch downgrade." The company's pursuit of the deal despite the risks demonstrated how hard Japanese companies are pushing for growth overseas as Japan's population shrinks and its drug companies struggle with unfavorable government policies.


Comcast prepares bid to upset Disney's $52 billion Fox acquisition

Cable giant Comcast is seeking bridge financing to make an all-cash bid to upset Walt Disney Co.'s $52 billion deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox's assets, Reuters reported Monday, citing three people familiar with the matter. Comcast, which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, has already offered $30 billion for the 61 percent of European pay-TV company Sky not already owned by Fox, exceeding what Fox had offered for Sky. Comcast reportedly is holding off on unveiling its offer to Fox until a judge rules next month on a Justice Department challenge to AT&T's planned $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.


Uber links fatal accident to self-driving software

Uber has determined that one of its self-driving cars in Arizona probably detected a pedestrian in the road but did not swerve to prevent a fatal collision because it had been programmed to avoid "false positives," such as a plastic bag floating over the pavement, according to a Monday report by the technology website The Information. The car's sensors appear to have detected a 49-year-old woman walking her bike across a street in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, but the software ruled out an immediate reaction, and the safety driver did not have time to take control manually. Uber said it had retained a former top U.S. transportation official to provide recommendations on safety, but the company made no immediate comment on the news report.


Stocks flat as investors await Trump decision on Iran

U.S. stock futures struggled for traction early Tuesday, showing little change as investors braced for President Trump's decision on whether to extend the Iran nuclear deal or reimpose sanctions. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq-100 all edged down by 0.1 percent after the three main U.S. indexes all made gains on Monday. "It seems as though President Trump will once more be a key factor in driving near-term market sentiment," Hantec Markets analyst Richard Perry said in a note. "This is certainly a decision that could [threaten] stability in the Middle East, and if the U.S. refused to waiver sanctions, it could increase tensions with trade partners and potential adversaries (such as China and Russia)."


New York attorney general resigns after report on abuse allegations

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, an outspoken advocate of the #MeToo movement who filed a lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein over sexual harassment, abruptly resigned late Monday after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him physically abusing them. All four had romantic relationships with Schneiderman, a liberal Democrat. Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, said Schneiderman, 63, slapped and choked them. Schneiderman said he "strongly" contested the allegations, but that they would prevent him from doing his job. Schneiderman said in a statement to The New Yorker that he had "engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity" in private, but had "not assaulted anyone." The women said the violence was not consensual.


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