Benzinga Before The Bell: Apple Employees Resist Calls For Return-To-Office, Tesla About To Hike FSD Prices Again, MGM China Injects $594M Into Macau Unit And Other Top Financial Stories Monday, August 22


Vodafone To Sell Hungarian Business For $1.8B: Report

  • Vodafone Group Plc VOD forged an agreement with Hungarian 4iG and state-run Corvinus Zrt to divest its Hungarian business for 715 billion forints ($1.8 billion) in cash, Reuters reports.
  • The deal excluding Vodafone’s shared services business VOIS will likely create Hungary’s second largest telecoms operator.
  • “The Hungarian Government has a clear strategy to build a Hungarian-owned national champion in the (Information and Communications Technology) sector,” Vodafone CEO Nick Read said.

FDA Says Study Needed To Assess Another Round Of Pfizer’s COVID-19 Pill As Infection Rebounds

  • The FDA has asked Pfizer Inc PFE to test an additional course of its antiviral Paxlovid among people who experience a rebound in COVID-19 after treatment.
  • According to the Reuters report, the company must produce the initial results of a randomized controlled trial of a second course of the antiviral by September 30 next year.
  • The National Institutes of Health studied 13,644 COVID-19 patients treated with Paxlovid or Merck & Co Inc’s MRK molnupiravir within five days of their COVID-19 infection.

Wall Street Journal

Cineworld Shares Plummet On Reports Of Bankruptcy Filing: What We Know So Far

  • British cinema chain Cineworld Group PLC CNNWF is expected to file a chapter 11 (bankruptcy) petition in the U.S. and will follow suit with an insolvency proceeding in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP and consultants from AlixPartners are said to be advising the company on the bankruptcy proceedings.
  • The company was badly hit in 2020 as about 800 of its theaters were shut following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and was helped by creditors to manage operations.

MGM China Injects $594M Into Macau Unit

  • MGM China Holdings Ltd, a unit of MGM Resorts International MGM, is planning to invest $594 million in its Macau casino operator, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The move comes after MGM’s decision to apply for a fresh license in Macau.
  • Macau has introduced new rules for casino operators whose licenses expire at the end of 2022.
  • One of the conditions is that companies are required to increase their capital to 5 billion patacas (~$619 million).

Bed Bath & Beyond Struggles To Get New Funding: Report

  • The recent downward trend for Bed Bath & Beyond Inc BBBY stock has made it difficult for the struggling company to get the capital infusion, Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Last week, the activist investor Ryan Cohen announced plans to sell his entire 10% stake, and many of the individuals who followed him to invest in the retail chain’s shares have also sold.
  • The stock has lost over 60% since then. Before that, its shares had more than quadrupled this month through Wednesday.

Amazon Looks At Holiday Season To Boost Revenue To Offset Inflation, Here’s How

  • Inc AMZN added to revenue streams ahead of the holiday season to counter inflationary headwinds and other costs amid pandemic recovery, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Amazon passed on some costs to its e-commerce platform sellers and looked to hold a second deals event for Prime members.
  • Amazon looks to add a “holiday peak fulfillment fee” from October 15 to January 14 to beat the higher operating costs during the holiday period as “seasonal expenses are reaching new heights.”


Amazon, UnitedHealth Said To Be Pursuing Cathie Wood-Backed Healthcare Firm

  • Home-health company Signify Health Inc. SGFY is being pursued by e-commerce giant, Inc. AMZN, UnitedHealth Group Incorporated UNH and a couple of other firms, Bloomberg reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
  • What Happened: UnitedHealth has tabled the highest bid of over $30 per share for Signify, and Amazon’s offer price is the next highest, the report said. CVS Health Corporation CVS and Option Care Health OPCH are also in the fray, it added.

Financial Times

Two US States To Move Forward With Talc-Related Lawsuits Against JNJ

  • Financial Times reported that Johnson & Johnson JNJ wants to use the “Texas two-step” bankruptcy strategy to block cases claiming its talc-based baby powder caused cancer in two US states.
  • A New Jersey court will consider a request by a J&J subsidiary to stop New Mexico and Mississippi from proceeding with their lawsuits against the company.
  • According to the legal experts, the decision could set a precedent over whether and to what extent corporations can use the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process to manage lawsuits alleging violations of state consumer protection regulations.

Apple Employees Resist Calls For Return-To-Office

  • Apple Inc AAPL employees are opposing the iPhone maker’s call for workers to return to the office in September, the Financial Times reports.
  • The employees argued being equally productive during two-plus years of flexible arrangements.
  • A group of workers formed Apple Together in 2021 as offices started functioning remotely due to the pandemic. The group circulated a petition internally, demanding “location flexible work.”


Tesla About To Hike FSD Prices Second Time This Year — Buy It By This Date Or Pay $15,000

  • Tesla, Inc.’s TSLA controversial full-self-driving package is getting another price hike, CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter.
  • Tesla will increase the price of FSD to $15,000 in North America on September 5 following a wider release of beta 10.69.2, Musk said. This represents a hefty $3,000 or 25% hike from the $12,000 the company currently charges. It is also currently available for a $199 monthly subscription. The previous hike was announced in early January when Musk communicated a $2,000 increase.
  • Tesla began beta testing the software with select customers in October 2020 and had priced it at $8,000 at that time. In a week’s time, the company raised the price to $10,000.

Ford To Contest $1.7B Verdict Over Pickup Truck Accident

  • Ford Motor Co F looks to appeal the $1.7 billion verdict after its pickup truck crash claimed the lives of a Georgia couple, AP News reports.
  • Jurors in Gwinnett County, just northeast of Atlanta, returned the verdict in the yearslong civil case citing dangerously defective roofs on Ford pickup trucks.
  • Melvin and Voncile Hill lost their lives in April 2014 in the rollover wreck of their 2002 Ford F-250. Their children, Kim and Adam Hill, were the wrongful death case plaintiffs.

Credit Suisse Names Dixit Joshi Finance Chief, Francesca McDonagh As COO

  • Credit Suisse Group AG CS has appointed Dixit Joshi as Chief Financial Officer and Francesca McDonagh as Group Chief Operating Officer. They will both join the Executive Board.
  • Joshi rejoins Credit Suisse, taking up the role of CFO on October 1, 2022. He succeeds David Mathers, who decided to step down after more than 11 years in his position.
  • Francesca McDonagh, previously announced as CEO of the EMEA region, is appointed Group Chief Operating Officer, starting on September 19, 2022. She will also lead the enterprise architecture development, focusing on organizational design and bank-wide efficiencies.

Toyota’s Hino Motors Suspends Light Truck Shipments After Emissions Data Scandal

  • Hino Motors Ltd, owned by Toyota Motor Corp TM, said misconduct regarding emissions was found through an investigation conducted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT).
  • The newly-discovered misconduct also relates to a light-duty engine, N04C (HC-SCR) (2019 model).
  • Thus, Hino said it is suspending shipments of HINO Dutro, a light-duty truck equipped with the engine in question.

Biden Administration Commits To $7B Afghan Asset Talks As UN Warns Nearly 20M People Face ‘Acute Hunger’ Under Taliban Rule

  • Washington is planning to transfer billions of dollars in Afghanistan’s foreign-held assets to help stabilize its collapsed economy.
  • What Happened: U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, in order to aid Afghanistan’s dwindling economy, will be transferring billions in foreign-held Afghan central bank assets into a proposed Swiss-based trust fund, three sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.
  • There has been a growing concern over a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. The United Nations has also warned that nearly half of its 40 million population faces “acute hunger” as winter approaches.

Canada OKs Pfizer COVID-19 Booster For Kids Aged 5-11 Years

  • Canada’s health ministry authorized the use of Pfizer Inc PFE and BioNTech SE’s BNTX COVID-19 vaccine as a booster for children 5 - 11 years old at least six months after their initial two doses.
  • The 10 mcg dose was authorized, and this is the first COVID-19 vaccine authorized as a booster dose in this age group.
  • The authorization for a booster shot was granted after a thorough, independent review of the vaccine, which provides “an option to restore their child’s protection against COVID-19, especially those at high risk of severe illness,” the health ministry wrote on Twitter.

Dollar Rises After Fed Official’s Hawkish Comment: Read This Before Making Your Next Forex Trade

  • The dollar index hit its highest level since mid-July, trading near 108.22 during Monday morning Asia session, following a hawkish comment from a U.S. Federal Reserve official last week.
  • Traders are also eyeing Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on the economic outlook at the Jackson Hole summit later this week, which will give an indication of how aggressive the rate hikes will be in the near future.
  • Dollar Index: The dollar index is a gauge that reflects the strength of the greenback against a basket of currencies. Its recent high stood at 108.54 as of mid-July, after which mixed expectations about rate hikes following a softer U.S. inflation in July had dragged the index down to as low as 105.09 in early August.

Do You Want To Work With Elon Musk? Here’s What Over 55% Of Benzinga’s Twitter Followers Said

  • Tesla, Inc. TSLA CEO Elon Musk is professionally a strict, exacting, and disciplined person - one who expects his employees to be enterprising, according to views shared by a former employee on a Podcast.
  • Sharing Benzinga’s story on the Podcast, we ran a close-ended poll with our Twitter followers, asking whether they would work with Musk, given a chance.
  • And The Verdict Is… A clear majority, 55.6% of the respondents who participated in the poll chose the option “Yes, dream come true.” The remaining 44.4% apparently find Musk intimidating. “No, he’s too intense,” was the response chosen by those people.

FDA Approves Insulet’s Omnipod Automated Insulin System For Patients Two Years & Above

  • The FDA has cleared Insulet Corporation’s PODD Omnipod 5 Automated Insulin Delivery System for individuals aged two years and older with type 1 diabetes (T1D).
  • Omnipod 5 is tubeless automated insulin delivery (AID) system in the U.S. that was initially cleared for use in individuals aged six and older in January 2022.
  • In a recent publication by Sherr et al. in Diabetes Care, Omnipod 5 significantly improved time in range and reduced HbA1c and time in hypoglycemia (<70 mg/dL) in very young children (aged 2 – 5.9 years) with type 1 diabetes.

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