The daily business briefing: December 11, 2023

SmileDirectClub announces shutdown, Cigna drops bid to buy health insurance rival Humana, and more

SmileDirectClub closes
SmileDirectClub closes shop
(Image credit: Presley Ann / Getty Images for SmileDirectClub)

1. SmileDirectClub says it's shutting down

SmileDirectClub announced over the weekend that it was shutting down, several months after the telehealth orthodontics provider filed for bankruptcy protection. The company, which provided clear aligners remotely without in-person visits to an orthodontist, called the decision "incredibly difficult." It marketed its teeth aligners, which sold for $1,850, as a faster and cheaper alternative to braces offered at orthodontists' offices. Its treatments took four to six months, with online check-ins with dentists. The company was founded in 2014 and was valued at $8.9 billion in its 2019 initial public offering, but it became weighed down by debt. BBC News, The New York Times

2. Cigna drops effort to buy health insurance rival Humana

Health insurance giant Cigna has dropped its effort to buy rival Humana after shareholders balked and negotiations hit an impasse over the price, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. Cigna instead announced it would buy back $10 billion worth of stock. "We believe Cigna's shares are significantly undervalued, and repurchases represent a value-enhancing deployment of capital as we work to support high-quality care, improved affordability and better health outcomes," Cigna Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Cordani said in a statement. A merger would have created a company valued at more than $140 billion. Reuters, The Wall Street Journal

3. Macy's receives $5.8 billion buyout offer

An investor group that includes real-estate investing firm Arkhouse Management and global asset manager Brigade Capital Management made a $5.8 billion offer to buy Macy's. The proposal to take the department store chain private comes as it struggles to compete with online rivals. The investor group submitted a proposal on Dec. 1 seeking to buy Macy's stock that the firms don't already own for $21 a share, a 32% premium over its value on the day of the offer. Macy's is down from a high of $70 a share in 2015. The company operates about 500 stores under its namesake brand. It also owns more than 30 higher-end Bloomingdale's department stores and some discount and smaller-format shops. The Wall Street Journal

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4. Stock futures little changed ahead of inflation data, Fed meeting

U.S. stock futures edged lower early Monday at the start of a week that will include the Federal Reserve's final policy meeting of the year. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were unchanged at 7 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. The Fed is expected to leave interest rates unchanged in the 5.25% to 5.5% range as signs of cooling inflation raise hopes the central bank could start lowering rates by March. Investors will be watching the November consumer price index, due out on Tuesday, for further clues on the Fed's next moves. CNBC

5. China deflation accelerates

China's consumer price index fell in November for the second straight month, in the latest sign of trouble for the world's second-largest economy. Consumer prices fell 0.5% in November on an annual basis, steeper than the 0.2% drop in October, China's National Bureau of Statistics reported Saturday. Beijing has been fighting weak prices for most of 2023 as a real-estate crisis and sagging consumer confidence drag down the economy. But the latest deflation numbers prompted calls for urgent measures to boost demand and prevent prices from plunging further. Inflation slowed in China early this year, then turned negative in July. CNN, The Guardian

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