Business Briefs – December 5, 2019

Saudi Aramco Plans $25.6B Share Sale In Biggest Ever IPO

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company Aramco is laying the groundwork for the biggest ever initial public offering of stock. The share price for its IPO announced Thursday puts the value of the company at $1.7 trillion. That makes it worth more than Apple or Microsoft. The sale is part of a plan by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to sell a 1.5% stake in the country’s crown jewel to help fuel the kingdom’s economy. The company said it will sell its shares at 32 riyals, or $8.53, each. That puts the overall value of the stake being sold at $25.6 billion.

OPEC Debates Deeper Production Cuts to Push Up Oil Price

VIENNA (AP) – The countries that make up the OPEC oil-producing cartel are talking far into the night over possible deep cuts to production that would support the price of fuel around the world. An expected news conference Thursday night has been cancelled. The oil ministers gathered in Vienna have been expected to prolong production cuts they agreed on for the past three years. Higher production from non-OPEC countries like the United States has capped energy prices in recent years.

Trade Deficit Hits 1½-Year Low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. trade deficit dropped to its lowest level in nearly 1½ years in October, suggesting trade could contribute to economic growth in the fourth quarter, though a fall in imports of consumer goods hinted at a slowdown in domestic demand.

Still, consumer spending is likely to remain supported by a strong labor market.

United’s Kirby to Take Over For CEO Oscar Munoz

CHICAGO (AP) – United Airlines says company president Scott Kirby will succeed CEO Oscar Munoz next May. Munoz recruited Kirby from American Airlines in 2016, where he had been considered as the likely successor to that carrier’s CEO. Kirby is widely credited with improving United’s fleet and operations. There were even rumors this year that American might try to lure him back as CEO. Munoz has been United’s CEO since mid-2015, a tumultuous period that included a controversy over the bloody dragging of a passenger off an overbooked plane in Chicago.

Experts Split Sharply Over Experimental Alzheimer’s Drug

SAN DIEGO (AP) – Experts are sharply split over the effectiveness of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug. Biogen, the maker of the drug, claims it is the first medicine to slow mental decline from the disease. But some independent scientists are unconvinced and question whether it warrants approval from the Food and Drug Administration. And in any case, the company’s own findings show that the drug makes only a very small difference in patients’ thinking skills.

Police Arrest Scores Amid Strike Over Pension Reform

PARIS (AP) – Police fired tear gas and arrested scores of people in Paris as hundreds of thousands of people marched nationwide in a strike over the French government’s plan to overhaul the retirement system. The Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles shut down Thursday, along with some galleries at the Louvre.

Tufts University Severs Ties With Family Behind OxyContin

BOSTON (AP) – Members of the family that own OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma say they will push to reverse Tufts University’s decision to strip their name from campus facilities and programs. Daniel Connolly, an attorney for several members of the Sackler family, issued a statement Thursday saying the school’s decision is based on “unproven allegations about the Sackler family and Purdue.” Tufts leaders announced Thursday they were cutting ties with the family over concerns about its role in the opioid crisis.

Nissan Gives Workers 2 Unpaid Days Off as U.S. Sales Slump

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) – Nissan Motor Co. is making its U.S. employees take two days off without pay as its sales continue to slump. The company’s U.S. sales this year are down 7.8% through November. Nissan says nearly all of its 21,000 U.S. workers must take Jan. 2 and 3 off without compensation. It says the move will improve business performance and competitiveness. Nissan’s sales crumbled following the November 2018 arrest of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn on allegations he underreported his compensation and made dubious payments. Last summer the Japanese automaker said it would cut 12,500 jobs, or about 9% of its global workforce.