Business Briefs – December 13, 2016

Monsanto Shareholders Approve Bayer’s $57 Billion Takeover

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Monsanto Co. shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $57 billion merger with Bayer AG, a deal that would combine two of the world’s biggest agricultural companies.

But the path toward securing regulatory approval may be rough. Critics say the combination would shrink competition in the agricultural market, drive prices higher for farmers and consumers, and escalate damage to the environment. Monsanto and Bayer officials say growers and ranchers stand to benefit, and the combined company will be better suited to address issues like climate change.

Preliminary results showed that 99 percent of all votes cast favored the merger announced in September, St. Louis-based Monsanto said. Shareholders will receive $128 per share in cash at the closing of the merger, which must still receive regulatory approval. Monsanto said the deal is expected to close by the end of 2017.

Tech Leaders Couldn’t Beat Trump; They’ll Meet Him Instead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Technology leaders are about to come face-to-face with President-elect Donald Trump after fiercely opposing his candidacy, fearful that he would stifle innovation, curb the hiring of computer-savvy immigrants and infringe on consumers’ digital privacy.

On Wednesday, a number of Silicon Valley leaders are headed to New York to make their peace — or press their case — with Trump and his advisers. The CEOs planning to attend include those from Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, IBM, Oracle and Cisco Systems.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, will be on hand instead of its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, who was one of many executives to express misgivings about Trump’s pledges.

Regulators Slap Curbs on Wells Fargo for ‘Living Will’ Plan

WASHINGTON – Federal regulators have slapped restrictions on Wells Fargo, finding that the big bank failed to adequately plug holes in the plan it would deploy if it fell into bankruptcy.

The move announced Tuesday by the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. added to the troubles of Wells Fargo. The bank has been gripped by a scandal over sales practices that brought numerous federal and state investigations, the resignation of its CEO and public outrage.

The regulators’ action related to the bank’s so-called “living will” plan is unrelated to the scandal over the opening of millions of unauthorized accounts by bank employees. The action bars Wells Fargo from setting up new international banking businesses or buying any nonbank subsidiaries.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo was the only one of five major banks that failed to meet the regulators’ six-month deadline, set in April, for getting their insufficient disaster plans in shape.

ConAgra to Pay $11.2m to Settle Tainted Peanut Butter Case

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) – A ConAgra subsidiary pleaded guilty Tuesday and agreed to pay $11.2 million to resolve a decade-long criminal investigation into a nationwide salmonella outbreak blamed on tainted peanut butter.

ConAgra admitted to a single misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. No individuals at the leading food conglomerate faced any charges in the 2006 outbreak, which sickened at least 625 people in 47 states.

Disease detectives traced the salmonella to a plant in rural Sylvester, Georgia, that produced peanut butter for ConAgra under the Peter Pan label and the Great Value brand sold at Wal-Mart.