Business Briefs – November 17, 2019

HP Rejects Takeover Offer From Xerox

(AP) – HP Inc. says its board has rejected a roughly $33.5 billion takeover offer from Xerox.

The Palo Alto, California-based company said Sunday that the cash and stock deal undervalues its business and its board cited concerns about “outsized” debt levels should the companies combine.

HP, which makes computers and printers, said it recognizes the potential benefits of consolidation and remains open to exploring other options to combine with Xerox Holdings Corp.

China Presses Washington For Tariff Cut in Trade Deal

BEIJING (AP) — China is pressing Washington to roll back punitive tariffs in an interim trade deal. A government spokesman says a tariff cut is an “important condition” for the agreement that is part of talks aimed at ending a costly trade war. Beijing said last week U.S. negotiators agreed to roll back some punitive tariffs if an agreement went ahead, but President Donald Trump dismissed that.

Oklahoma Judge Reduces J&J Order in Opioid Lawsuit by $107m

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – An Oklahoma judge who last summer ordered consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $572 million to help address the state’s opioid crisis is reducing that amount by $107 million in his final order in the case. District Judge Thad Balkman on Friday issued the order directing the company to pay the state $465 million, acknowledging that he miscalculated in his original award how much it would cost to develop a program for treating babies born addicted to opioids.

Esper Defends as Fair Pentagon Contract Disputed by Amazon

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he’s certain the awarding of a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft instead of Amazon was done fairly. Esper was asked about the controversy while visiting South Korea. Amazon is challenging the Pentagon contract decision in court and says there was “unmistakable bias” on the government’s part. President Donald Trump said in July he has received complaints about the Pentagon award process and that the contract was not competitively bid.

U.S. Retail Sales Rose a Modest 0.3% in October

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans stepped up their shopping last month, spending more online and buying more cars, evidence that consumers can still drive the economy’s growth. The Commerce Department says retail sales rose 0.3% in October, rebounding from a 0.3% drop the previous month.

Ailing Ex-Telecom Executive Ebbers Seeks Release From Prison

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A former telecommunications executive convicted in one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history is asking a judge to shorten his prison sentence so he can be released as his health deteriorates. Bernard Ebbers led WorldCom, based in Mississippi. He was convicted in New York in 2005 on securities fraud and other charges and started serving a 25-year sentence in 2006. His attorneys say the 78-year-old Ebbers is legally blind and has a heart condition.

GM Strike Pushes Industrial Production Down 0.8% Last Month

WASHINGTON (AP) – A strike at General Motors pushed U.S. manufacturing production lower in October, adding to the troubles confronting American industry. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing output tumbled 0.6% last month, largely because production of cars and auto parts plunged 7.1% amid the GM strike.