Paddy Power in talks to merge with Fan Duel
Gambling firm Paddy Power Betfair has said it is in talks over a merger in the US with fantasy sports site Fan Duel. Talks centre around combining its US operation with Fan Duel to create a business to “to target the prospective US sports betting market”. It comes as […]
Novartis top lawyer exits in wake of Trump attorney deal
ZURICH (Reuters) – Novartis (NOVN.S) General Counsel Felix Ehrat will leave the Swiss drugmaker over his role in a $1.2 million contract it struck with the personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, saying on Wednesday the pact was legal but an error.
The $100,000-per-month contract with Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s Essential Consultants, the same firm used to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to hush up an alleged affair with Trump, has distracted Novartis’s efforts to improve its image after a series of bribery scandals. Trump has denied the affair. Novartis ended the contract this year.
The contract was approved in early 2017 under the former Novartis chief executive Joe Jimenez and was part of its efforts to learn more about how the new Trump administration might approach certain U.S. healthcare policy matters.
Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices for Prime members in new grocery showdown
(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Whole Foods Market are making a surgical strike in the already brutal grocery price war. On Wednesday, Whole Foods debuted a much-anticipated loyalty program that offers special discounts to Prime customers, including 10 percent off hundreds of sale items and rotating weekly specials such as $10 per pound off wild-caught halibut steaks.
Those perks are available now in Florida and will roll out to all other stores starting this summer. Amazon previously announced free two-hour delivery from Whole Foods stores for members of Prime, its subscription club with fast shipping and video streaming. The new loyalty strategy will test whether Amazon’s $13.7 billion deal for Whole Foods brings much-feared disruption and an intensified price war to the $800 billion U.S. grocery industry dominated by Walmart Inc (WMT.N) and Kroger Co (KR.N).
Whole Foods, with 463 U.S. stores and roughly 1 percent share of the fragmented U.S. grocery market, has gained momentum since the Amazon merger last summer, Whole Foods co-founder and Chief Executive John Mackey told Reuters. Closely watched basket size – the number of items purchased per transaction – has grown since the merger, said Mackey. He declined to offer specifics. Mackey is betting on Prime to convince shoppers wary of its “Whole Paycheck” reputation that it is an affordable option for more of their purchases.
The new perks could make Whole Foods cheaper than conventional grocers for about 8 million of its customers who already subscribe to Amazon Prime, according to Morgan Stanley analysts.
Australia’s trade minister says China ties a priority after recent ‘differences’
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s trade minister will use a visit to China this week to reinforce ties with his country’s largest trading partner, he said on Wednesday, following a recent souring in relations. Steven Ciobo’s arrival in Shanghai on Thursday marks the first trip by an Australian minister in eight months, part of Canberra’s effort to protect access to a market for everything from iron ore to baby formula, analysts said.
“I am not going to paper over the fact that in the past several months the focus has been on the differences,” Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in a radio interview.
“I will be ensuring our relationship with China is afforded the priority it deserves.”
Ciobo will hold talks with Chinese officials during his three-day visit.
Brazilian prosecutors charge JBS shareholder with corruption
BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian federal prosecutors presented charges against Joesley Batista, a major shareholder in meatpacker JBS SA (JBSS3.SA), another senior executive and a former federal prosecutor accusing them of corruption, money laundering and obstruction of Justice, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The charges against Joesley Batista, former executive Francisco Assis and former federal prosecutor Angelo Goulart were presented to a Brazilian court. They would become defendants in a criminal case if the court agreed with the charges. Lawyers for Batista and Assis said in a statement that charges against Batista and Assis could not be presented before the decision by the Supreme Court on the validity of their plea deals. Efforts to locate an attorney for Goulart were unsuccessful.
The charges, which are under seal, accuse Goulart of leaking internal Prosecutors Office information to Batista and Assis to ease their negotiations for a plea deal.
Maduro seizes Kellogg plant after it leaves Venezuela due to crisis
CARACAS (Reuters) – U.S.-based cereal maker Kellogg Co (K.N) on Tuesday pulled out of Venezuela due to the country’s deep economic crisis, and an angry President Nicolas Maduro said its units would be taken over and given to workers. A box of corn flakes made by Kellogg is seen on a shopping cart inside a local shop in Caracas, Venezuela May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
Kellogg confirmed later on Tuesday that its manufacturing plant had been seized by the leftist government, the latest company to jump ship amid Venezuela’s tough business climate.
“I’ve decided to hand the company over to the workers so that they can continue producing for the people,” Maduro said at a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
“We’ve begun judicial proceedings against the business leaders of Kellogg’s because their exit is unconstitutional,” Maduro added to cheers from red-shirted supporters.
Maduro blames Venezuela’s crisis on an “economic war” he says is waged by Washington, greedy businessmen and coup-mongers.
Carillion board oversaw a ‘rotten corporate culture’, say MPs
Carillion’s board presided over a “rotten corporate culture” and was culpable for its “costly collapse”, two committees of MPs have concluded. They also accused the government and Big Four accounting firms of failing to stop Britain’s second biggest construction firm from going under. The MPs said regulators should now consider banning the former directors from serving on other company boards.
Carillion collapsed under a £1.5bn debt pile in January. It employed 43,000 people, around 20,000 of them in the UK, and thousands of jobs have been lost. It also held numerous public contracts, such as the maintenance of schools and prisons, all of which had to be brought under government control.
Colombia’s ex-fighters taught skills for peace
When Sebastian Cadavid was recruited to join the FARC guerilla group in Colombia he had little idea of how it would shape his future. Lured with promises of cars and money the 12-year-old didn’t hesitate to sign up. Sebastian spent four years fighting with the guerillas, receiving intensive ammunition training – but no schooling. When he was captured by the army at 16, Sebastian was faced with a world he was unskilled and unprepared to join.
“I was sent to Bogota,” said Sebastian. “To a reform house where street criminals were sent. And I had to find a job, in a busy city where I knew no-one and had no skills. I was scared and nervous – it was the first encounter I’d had with society since I was 12.”
The majority – 70% – of FARC members were illiterate, giving the recently demobilised guerrillas little chance of finding work, let alone sustainable, full-time employment.