Business Briefs (March 31, 2022)
Iowa to kill 1.5M more hens and turkeys because of bird flu
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP)—Iowa agriculture officials announced two more bird flu outbreaks in commercial flocks on Tuesday that will require the killing of more than 1.5 million hens and turkeys. One of the new outbreaks will lead to the killing of 1.5 million chickens at an egg-laying farm in Guthrie County, about 60 miles west of Des Moines. The other was at a turkey farm in Hamilton County, about 65 miles north of Des Moines, where 28,000 birds will be killed. After they are killed, birds typically are buried in compost pits on the farms. Iowa State Veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand said it appears the infections are coming from migrating wild birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 17 states have had outbreaks in commercial or private outdoor flocks this year. The virus has been found in wild birds in at least 25 states.
US officials can travel to China to aid crash investigation
WASHINGTON (AP)—A U.S. government agency said Tuesday that China has granted visas for federal investigators to travel there and aid in the investigation of the deadly China Eastern Airlines crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said China also granted visas to technical advisers from Boeing, which made the plane, engine manufacturer CFM and the Federal Aviation Administration. All would take part in the investigation, under longstanding international agreements. The safety board said the U.S. officials and industry representatives hope to leave for China this week. A safety board spokesman said the independent agency will send a “small group” including senior air-safety investigator Sathya Silva to China. Their travel was held up for several days to meet Chinese visa and COVID-19 regulations, and the NTSB appealed to the State Department to intervene.
China tries to limit economic blow of Shanghai shutdown
BEIJING (AP)—As millions of Shanghai residents line up for coronavirus tests in the closed-down metropolis, authorities are promising tax cuts for shopkeepers and to keep its busy port functioning to limit disruptions to industry and trade. This week’s shutdown of most activities in China’s most populous city to contain virus outbreaks jolted financial markets already on edge about Russia’s war on Ukraine, higher U.S. interest rates and a Chinese economic slowdown. The ruling Communist Party is trying to fine-tune its “zero tolerance” pandemic strategy to rein in job losses and other costs to the world’s second-largest economy. The Shanghai government has announced tax refunds, cuts in rent and low-cost loans for small businesses. A government statement Tuesday promised to “stabilize jobs” and “optimize the business environment.”
FTC sues Intuit to stop ‘bait-and-switch’ TurboTax ads
The Federal Trade Commission is suing TurboTax maker Intuit, saying its ads for “free” tax filing misled consumers. Intuit says it will fight the suit. The consumer protection agency said Tuesday that millions of consumers cannot actually use the free tax-prep software option—two-thirds of tax filers in 2020. They are ineligible, the agency says, if they are gig workers or earn farm income, for example. “TurboTax is bombarding consumers with ads for ‘free’ tax filing services, and then hitting them with charges when it’s time to file,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a statement. “We are asking a court to immediately halt this bait-and-switch, and to protect taxpayers at the peak of filing season.” (AP)
Media measuring company Nielsen to be acquired in $16B deal
Nielsen is being acquired for $16 billion, including debt, about a week after the media measurement company rejected a smaller offer earlier this month. Viewing data collected by Nielsen plays a big role in determining where billions in advertising dollars are spent each year. The company itself has annual global revenue of about $3.5 billion. A group of private equity investors led by Evergreen Coast Capital Corp., an affiliate of Elliott Investment Management L.P., and Brookfield Business Partners L.P. along with institutional partners will pay $28 for each outstanding Nielsen share. Brookfield Business Partners will invest approximately $2.65 billion via preferred equity, convertible into 45% of Nielsen’s common equity. The equity version of the deal is worth just over $10 billion in cash, with the remainder in debt held by Nielsen. Brookfield said Tuesday that it anticipates investing approximately $600 million, with the remaining balance funded from institutional partners. (AP)
Vietnamese carmaker to build electric vehicles in N Carolina
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—A Vietnamese automaker announced plans Tuesday to build a plant in North Carolina to manufacture electric vehicles, promising to bring 7,500 jobs and ending the state’s streak of near-misses for landing carmakers. VinFast will build its first North American plant in Chatham County southwest of Raleigh, with production expected to start in 2024. It expects to employ 7,500 by 2027 with average salaries of $51,000, according to the state Commerce Department. “VinFast’s transformative project will bring many good jobs to our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. The company is expected to invest $4 billion in building the plant on a nearly 2,000-acre (800-hectare) site about a 30-minute drive southwest of Raleigh. The plant is planned to be able to manufacture 150,000 cars per year.