By Dan Fitzpatrick
Silicon Valley is backing away from Hong Kong. Google, Facebook and Twitter said Monday they suspended requests for user data from that city's law-enforcement agencies following China's imposition of a national-security law. TikTok, a buzzy short-video platform, also said it would pull its app from Google and Apple Inc.'s app stores in Hong Kong. The moves have put U.S. technology titans on a potential collision course with Beijing. Alphabet shares rose 2% Monday.
Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber finally found a dinner date. It reached a $2.65 billion deal to buy rival Postmates Inc. that will help it better compete in restaurant delivery and the market for delivering groceries and other staples. Uber would become the second-largest restaurant delivery service in the U.S. by market share, following DoorDash Inc., according to research firm Edison Trends. Grubhub Inc. ranks third. Uber sought to buy Grubhub earlier this year to shore up its position in the U.S., but the deal fell apart under regulatory concerns and disagreements over price. Uber shares rose 6% Monday.
The drugmaker received a new injection from Uncle Sam. The federal government will supply $1.6 billion to pay for clinical studies of Novavax's experimental coronavirus vaccine and establish large-scale manufacturing of doses. Novavax said Tuesday the funding would allow it to deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine for use in the U.S. -- possibly by the end of the year. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. also said it received a $450 million federal contract to manufacture thousands of doses of its experimental Covid-19 treatment. Novavax shares surged 31.6% Tuesday.
United Airlines Holdings Inc.
The turbulence of Covid-19 is roiling United, which said Wednesday it could be forced to shed almost half its U.S. workforce. The carrier told 36,000 employees they could be furloughed as soon as Oct. 1 because of the pandemic-driven slump in passenger demand. The news followed an earlier warning from United that a surge in U.S. coronavirus cases and new government restrictions are keeping travelers from flying. Chicago-based United is the first major U.S. carrier to detail possible mass furloughs despite receiving billions of dollars in federal aid. United shares dropped 0.6% Wednesday.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Warren Buffett finally found something worth buying during the Covid-19 contraction. Berkshire Hathaway's energy company agreed to acquire pipeline and storage assets belonging to Dominion Energy Inc. Berkshire Hathaway Energy already operates a $100 billion portfolio of utility, transmission and generation businesses providing natural gas and electricity to more than 12 million customers. The Dominion acquisition, announced Sunday, will add 7,700 miles of natural-gas storage and transmission pipelines and about 900 billion cubic feet of gas storage to its holdings. Berkshire shares rose 2.2% Monday.
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
The pharmacy chain swallowed a $1.7 billion loss in its latest quarter due to fewer prescriptions in the U.S. and homebound consumers. It also said Thursday that it plans to cut about 4,000 jobs in the U.K. and suspend stock buybacks. The Covid-19 pandemic has been challenging for drugstores, as patients put off visiting doctors and other health providers. Walgreens separately said it would attach doctors' offices to hundreds of drugstores as the pharmacy chain seeks to remodel itself as a health-care provider. Walgreen shares dropped 7.8% Thursday.
Harley-Davidson is losing some of its horsepower. The Milwaukee motorcycle maker said Thursday it would cut about 700 jobs, or 13% of its workforce, as part of a global overhaul. Harley-Davidson's sales in its core U.S. market have been falling for years, and the company replaced CEO Matt Levatich earlier this year with Jochen Zeitz. The company reopened its factories after closures related to the pandemic some weeks ago at lower production levels, reflecting pressures including lower demand for motorcycles. Harley-Davidson's shares rose 0.6% Thursday.
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