Business Briefs – April 6, 2016

Allergan, Pfizer Call Off Proposed $160b Merger

WASHINGTON (AP) – Top U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Irish rival Allergan are charting independent futures after scrapping a record $160 billion deal torpedoed by new Treasury Department rules meant to block American companies from moving their corporate addresses overseas — on paper — to avoid U.S. taxes.

The rules issued Monday, aimed at stopping the companies’ “tax inversion” deal, wiped out its financial incentives and rationale for Pfizer Inc., though they had no impact on Allergan PLC.

That led Pfizer and Allergan to walk away “by mutual agreement” on Wednesday.

Stricter Rules Unveiled for Brokers Giving Retirement Advice

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration acted Wednesday to require that brokers who recommend investments for retirement savers meet a stricter standard that now applies to registered advisers: They must act as “fiduciaries” — trustees who are obligated to put their clients’ best interests above all.

The action, in rules issued by the Labor Department, could shake up how Americans’ retirement investments are handled by brokers. The anticipated release of the rules had been the target of heated lobbying campaigns from both the financial industry and consumer advocates.

Federal Suit to Stop Deal Between 2 Oilfield Services Firms

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Justice Department is suing to stop Halliburton from buying oilfield-services rival Baker Hughes, the latest effort by the Obama administration to block mergers that it believes enrich corporations but hurt consumers.

The government argues that the $35 billion deal would lead to higher prices and less innovation in the industry.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court in Delaware.

Monsanto Misses Street 2Q Forecasts on Falling Seed Sales

NEW YORK (AP) – Monsanto Co. reported weaker-than-expected earnings Wednesday as the company offered price discounts to try and revive flagging sales of its biotech-enhanced seeds.

The company has struggled with falling prices for crops like corn, soy beans and wheat, which have reduced farmers’ spending on Monsanto’s genetically enhanced seeds. At the same time, the strong dollar has made its products, including chemical weed killer, more expensive overseas.

The St. Louis-based company reported a second-quarter profit of $1.06 billion, or $2.41 per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were $2.42, missing market expectations.

Fliers Beware: New Airfare Rule Could Lead to Costly Mistake

NEW YORK (AP) – The three largest U.S. airlines have changed the way they price multi-city trips, forcing those who book such itineraries to pay hundreds of extra dollars.

Travelers visiting several cities on one trip are seeing airfares six or seven times the normal price. Many might not know of the new policy or that there is a way to avoid the higher fares.

The simultaneous adoption of new pricing rules by all three carriers has led the Business Travel Coalition to accuse the airlines of illegally coordinating and has asked for an investigation of possible airline collusion.

Teenage Girl Killed by Exploding Takata Air Bag In Texas

DETROIT (AP) – An exploding Takata air bag has claimed another life, this time a 17-year-old girl whose car crashed near Houston.

The girl is the latest victim of malfunctioning air bag inflators that have killed 10 people in the U.S., touching off the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. More than 100 people have been hurt by the inflators, which can explode with too much force.

The girl was driving a 2002 Honda Civic when it rear-ended another vehicle in a “moderate” crash and the air bags went off, which sent shrapnel into her neck, killing her.