Business briefing

The daily business briefing: May 25, 2021

Florida law targets social media companies that ban politicians, Amazon nears deal to buy MGM, and more

1

Florida law fines social media companies that ban politicians

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed a law that fines social media companies that permanently ban political candidates in the state. The law, a direct response to Facebook and Twitter suspensions of former President Donald Trump from their platforms, also makes it easier for Floridians to sue the businesses. This is the first state law that regulates how tech companies moderate speech. A legal challenge is expected. DeSantis, a Trump supporter, said in a statement that with this new law, "if Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable." The law makes it illegal for a social media company to ban any candidate for state office for more than 14 days. It imposes a $250,000 daily fine for violations, and requires companies to clearly state why they decide to remove or leave up content.

2

Report: Amazon near $9 billion deal to buy MGM

Amazon is close to a deal to buy MGM Holdings for nearly $9 billion, including debt, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. An agreement could be announced this week. The deal to acquire the iconic Hollywood studio would be Amazon's second biggest acquisition ever, second only to its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods in 2017. MGM was valued at about $5.5 billion, including debt, at the end of last year, but its stock has surged from about $105 per share 10 days ago, before the acquisition talks were first reported, to $140 on Monday. Reports of the developing deal came a week after AT&T agreed to combine its media assets with Discovery to create a new streaming video giant.

3

Group asks court for review of Scotland decision on Trump golf courses

The human rights group Avaaz filed a petition on Monday asking Scotland's highest court for a judicial review of the Scottish government's rejection of a motion to investigate former President Donald Trump's all-cash purchases of two golf courses in the country. Scotland's Parliament in February voted 89 to 32 against a motion brought by the minority Scottish Green Party seeking details on how the Trump Organization got the money to buy the courses in 2006 and 2014. Trump paid $300 million in cash to buy and develop the courses after decades of borrowing to buy properties. The Green Party wanted the government to pursue an "unexplained wealth order," a tool the British government introduced in 2018 to help fight money laundering and illicit wealth of foreign officials.

4

Pfizer tests COVID-19 booster, pneumococcal vaccine combo

Pfizer announced Monday that it had started a study on the "coadministration" of its pneumococcal vaccine candidate and a third "booster dose" of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech. The study, which focuses on fully vaccinated adults over age 65, was designed to determine whether it would be safe to combine the two vaccines, and whether they generated similar immune responses compared to when they are given individually. The pneumococcal candidate was developed to protect adults against most invasive pneumococcal diseases and pneumonia. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously advised that COVID-19 vaccinations be administered alone, but after experience with non-COVID vaccines, health experts deemed coadministration to be safe.

5

Stock futures rise following Monday's gains

U.S. stock index futures edged higher early Tuesday after Wall Street's Monday gains. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 0.3 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures tied to the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Bitcoin's price stabilized on Monday after the cryptocurrency's recent plunge, which had dragged down Tesla and other tech stocks. Tesla was up by about 1 percent in pre-market trading on Tuesday. Coinbase rose 1.7 percent, and tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, and Google-parent Alphabet all were higher. The Dow closed 0.5 percent higher on Monday. The S&P 500 gained 1 percent, and the Nasdaq jumped by 1.4 percent.

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