The daily business briefing: September 14, 2020



Oracle beats out Microsoft in TikTok bidding

ByteDance on Sunday rejected a TikTok acquisition offer from Microsoft and accepted a bid from Oracle Corp. to take over U.S. operations of the Chinese company's short-video app. The deal reportedly will not be an outright sale. Instead, Oracle will become TikTok's "trusted tech partner" in the U.S. President Trump, citing concerns that the Chinese government could access user data, has threatened to shut down TikTok unless ByteDance sells its U.S. business to an American company by Sept. 15. The deal with Oracle still must receive approval from the White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. TikTok has about 100 million monthly users in the U.S., up from 11 million in early 2018. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]


Gilead Sciences to acquire Immunomedics in $21 billion deal

Gilead Sciences has reached a deal to buy biopharmaceutical company Immunomedics for $21 billion, the companies said Sunday in a joint statement. The acquisition will give Gilead access to Immunomedics' promising breast cancer drug, Trodelvy, boosting the company's portfolio of cancer treatments. Trodelvy received an accelerated approval from the Food and Drug Administration in April. Gilead agreed to buy all outstanding shares of Immunomedics for $88 per share, a 110 percent premium over their Friday closing price. Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day called Trodelvy "an approved, tranformational medicine for a form of cancer that is particularly challenging to treat. We will now continue to explore its potential to treat many other types of cancer." [Reuters]


2 meat plants penalized $29,000 over coronavirus exposures

Federal regulators recently fined two meat plants and demanded stronger worker protections six months after the facilities became early coronavirus hot spots, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The penalties against the Smithfield Foods plant in South Dakota and a JBS plant in Colorado, which were issued last week, totaled about $29,000. Critics, including workers and union leaders, said the fines were too small to give the companies any incentive to step up efforts to protect workers, and expressed outrage that the plants were only cited for three safety violations. Hundreds of other meat plants have not been fined at all. At least 42,534 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the coronavirus at 494 meat plants. At least 203 workers have died, according to the Food Environmental Reporting Network, a nonprofit investigative news organization. [The Washington Post]


Trump issues executive order seeking lower Medicare drug costs

President Trump on Sunday issued an executive order designed to lower prescription drug prices by exploring ways to require Medicare to pay the same prices for medicines that are charged in Europe and other developed nations. Drug prices are typically lower abroad. "It is unacceptable that Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places," the order says. The order follows up on a promise Trump made in July, although skeptics noted that it has no immediate effect. Trump invoked the administration's authority under the Affordable Care Act in ordering the model projects. Prescription drug policy expert Rachel Sachs, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, noted that the Democrat-controlled House passed a bill last December that would have used international pricing to lower Medicare drug costs and "Trump threatened to veto that bill." [The New York Times, CNN]


Stock futures surge after back-to-back weekly losses

U.S. stock index futures jumped early Monday as Wall Street fought to bounce back from back-to-back weekly losses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.8 percent several hours before the opening bell. Futures for the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. A selloff in technology shares, the year's best-performing sector, drove the market lower over the last two weeks. Investor sentiment got a boost early Monday with the news that Nvidia had agreed to buy chipmaker Arm Holdings from SoftBank for $40 billion. [CNBC]