• Coronavirus update: Trump quits WHO in multi-front battle vs. China; NYC eyes June 8 reopen
    Yahoo Finance

    Coronavirus update: Trump quits WHO in multi-front battle vs. China; NYC eyes June 8 reopen

    President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. was revoking its support for the agency, the latest escalation in a battle that has seen the president accuse the WHO of being too beholden to Beijing.

  • Exclusive: Sanofi stops enrolling COVID-19 patients in hydroxychloroquine trials
    Reuters

    Exclusive: Sanofi stops enrolling COVID-19 patients in hydroxychloroquine trials

    Sanofi has temporarily stopped recruiting new COVID-19 patients for two clinical trials on hydroxychloroquine and will no longer supply the anti-malaria drug to treat COVID-19 until concerns about safety are cleared up, it said on Friday. The moves come after the World Health Organization paused its large trial of hydroxychloroquine, prompting several European governments to ban the use of the drug, also used in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Sanofi has been conducting two randomised, controlled clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

  • REGN vs. BMRN: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?
    Zacks

    REGN vs. BMRN: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?

    REGN vs. BMRN: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?

  • J&J's Ebola vaccine wins EU regulatory panel backing
    Reuters

    J&J's Ebola vaccine wins EU regulatory panel backing

    J&J submitted its application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in November for the vaccine, which targets an Ebola strain that causes the disease in most people. The company in February said it was developing a coronavirus vaccine program with the help of the same technologies used in the experimental Ebola vaccine. The panel recommendation confirms the potential of the vaccine technology, Johan Van Hoof, managing director of J&J's Janssen unit said.

  • Glaxo Plans to Make 1B Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine Adjuvant
    Zacks

    Glaxo Plans to Make 1B Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine Adjuvant

    Glaxo (GSK) set to enhance its manufacturing capacity to make 1 billion doses of its pandemic vaccine adjuvant, which can be used to improve efficacy and scale up of multiple COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) Jumps: Stock Rises 6.3%
    Zacks

    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) Jumps: Stock Rises 6.3%

    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) saw a big move last session, as its shares jumped more than 6% on the day, amid huge volumes.

  • European, South Korean authorities vie for COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir
    Reuters

    European, South Korean authorities vie for COVID-19 antiviral remdesivir

    European and South Korean authorities are vying for Gilead Sciences' potential COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, even though the drugmaker has yet to gain regulatory approval in either market and is still ramping up production of the anti-viral drug. Governments are racing to bolster supplies of remdesivir, which U.S. regulators greenlighted this month as a treatment for the novel coronavirus. Foster City, California-based Gilead said it will donate 1.5 million doses of remdesivir, enough to treat at least 140,000 patients, to combat the global pandemic.

  • Takeda to Present Data from the ICLUSIG® (ponatinib) Clinical Trial Program that Could Prove Practice-Changing for the Treatment of Chronic-Phase CML
    Business Wire

    Takeda to Present Data from the ICLUSIG® (ponatinib) Clinical Trial Program that Could Prove Practice-Changing for the Treatment of Chronic-Phase CML

    Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502/NYSE:TAK) today announced that interim analysis data from the Phase 2 OPTIC (Optimizing Ponatinib Treatment In CML) trial will be presented during an oral session at the virtual 56th American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and the 25th European Hematology Association (EHA) Annual Meeting. The OPTIC trial is an ongoing, randomized, open-label study prospectively evaluating response-based dosing regimens of ICLUSIG® (ponatinib) over a range of three starting doses (45-, 30-, or 15-mg) with the aim of optimizing its efficacy and safety in patients with chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CP-CML) who are resistant or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy.

  • Takeda Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Pre-Filled Syringe Presentation of TAKHZYRO® (lanadelumab) for Use as a Preventive Treatment for Hereditary Angioedema Attacks
    Business Wire

    Takeda Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Pre-Filled Syringe Presentation of TAKHZYRO® (lanadelumab) for Use as a Preventive Treatment for Hereditary Angioedema Attacks

    Takeda Receives Positive CHMP Opinion for Pre-filled Syringe Presentation of TAKHZYRO® (lanadelumab) for use as a Preventive Treatment for Hereditary

  • Investigational Magrolimab in Combination With Azacitidine Demonstrates Durable Activity in Previously-Untreated Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia
    Business Wire

    Investigational Magrolimab in Combination With Azacitidine Demonstrates Durable Activity in Previously-Untreated Myelodysplastic Syndrome and Acute Myeloid Leukemia

    Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) today announced updated results from a single-arm, open-label Phase 1b trial of magrolimab, an investigational anti-CD47 monoclonal antibody, in combination with azacitidine in previously untreated patients with higher-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and previously untreated patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are ineligible for intensive chemotherapy, including patients with TP53-mutant AML, a high unmet need population. Results continue to support the clinical activity of magrolimab and azacitidine. The data were presented during an oral session at the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting held from May 29-31 (Abstract 7057).

  • Yescarta® (Axicabtagene Ciloleucel) Demonstrates High Rates of Response in Relapsed or Refractory Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
    Business Wire

    Yescarta® (Axicabtagene Ciloleucel) Demonstrates High Rates of Response in Relapsed or Refractory Indolent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

    Kite, a Gilead Company (Nasdaq: GILD), today announced results from an interim analysis of ZUMA-5, a global, multicenter, single-arm, open-label Phase 2 study evaluating Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in adult patients with relapsed or refractory indolent (slow growing) non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after at least two prior lines of therapy. After a single infusion of Yescarta, 93 percent of patients (n=96 evaluable for efficacy) responded, with 80 percent of patients achieving a complete response (CR) as assessed by an independent review committee. The data were presented in an oral session during the 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting held from May 29-31 (Abstract 8008). The presentation has also been selected for a Highlights of the Day session as part of ASCO’s 2020 Virtual Scientific Program on Saturday, May 30 at 11:30 am ET. The Highlights sessions recap the most impactful science from the oral sessions.

  • European Commission Releases Takeda From Commitment to Divest Shire’s Pipeline Compound SHP647
    Business Wire

    European Commission Releases Takeda From Commitment to Divest Shire’s Pipeline Compound SHP647

    Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TOKYO:4502) (NYSE:TAK) ("Takeda") today announces that on May 28, the European Commission (the "EC") has released Takeda from the obligation to divest the pipeline compound SHP647 and certain associated rights ("SHP647"), a commitment that was provided by Takeda to secure regulatory clearance of its acquisition of Shire plc ("Shire"). Takeda will discontinue the current SHP647 clinical trial program, and it will be providing all eligible trial participants with the opportunity to have continued access to SHP647 in a post-trial access ("PTA") study. In addition, subject to obtaining trial participant consents and the satisfaction of regulatory and ethical considerations, Takeda will make SHP647 clinical trial data and biosamples available to the scientific community through the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation ("Foundation").

  • Texas Infections Jump 3.2%, U.S. Cases Increase: Virus Update
    Bloomberg

    Texas Infections Jump 3.2%, U.S. Cases Increase: Virus Update

    (Bloomberg) -- Texas sports leagues can have some fans attend games even as new coronavirus cases in the state climbed at amost twice the weekly average. Overall U.S. infections increased 1.2%.New York gave store owners the power to keep out customers for not wearing a mask. Securities regulators are scrutinizing public companies that got U.S. stimulus aid.The U.S. Veterans Administration is using less of a drug touted by President Donald Trump for Covid-19. Roche’s immune suppressor Actemra will be paired with Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir in a late-stage trial.Key Developments:Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.7 million; deaths over 358,000Why New York suffered when other cities were sparedIndia’s deaths exceed China’s as global hot spots shiftVaccine makers may need to infect subjects to get resultsLatin America now accounts for 40% of daily virus deathsHow can I get it? The evidence on transmission: QuickTakeSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.San Francisco to Reopen Retail, Sports (5:10 p.m. NY)San Francisco, one of the first U.S. cities to close, is taking steps to reopen businesses, while stay-home orders remain in effect. Starting June 15, restrictions will be loosened on outdoor dining, indoor retail and certain outdoor activities like summer camps, Mayor London Breed said. Professional sports can resume, but without spectators.The city will open child care and outdoor museums June 1. In the next phase, scheduled for July 13, hair salons will open and indoor dining and real estate open houses will be permitted.Breed said a stay-at-home order remains in place indefinitely, and encouraged office workers to continue to telecommute. “This plan is being implemented, but we are still asking people to stay at home if at all possible,” she said.Texas Cases Jump; Fans Return to Stadiums (4:25 p.m. NY)Texas Governor Greg Abbott will let professional sports leagues play games in stadiums and outdoor arenas with fans, limited to 25% of capacity. Indoor sports events remain closed to spectators. New cases rose faster than the weekly average.Leagues must submit a health and safety plan for screening and regular testing of employees, players and contractors, according to a statement on the state’s website. Six feet (1.8 meters) of distance should be maintained in settings including locker rooms, break rooms, workout or practice facilities, and showers.Texas cases climbed 3.2%, almost twice the seven-day average, to 59,766, according to state health department data. New-case detections outpaced the 2.9% increase in testing and, in terms of raw numbers, the case count increased at the steepest daily rate since the pandemic began.Fatalities rose 2.5% to 1,601. Abbott has been dispatching so-called surge response teams to Amarillo and other hot spots to deal with outbreaks centered in facilities such as meatpacking plants.U.S. Cases Rise 1.2% (4 p.m. NY)Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2% as compared to the same time Wednesday, to 1.71 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s in line with Wednesday’s rate and the average of 1.3% over the past seven days. Deaths rose 1.4% to 101,129.New York had more than 366,000 cases and 23,600 fatalities as of May 27, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Hospitalizations are declining, and daily fatalities were below 100 for a fourth day, after peaking at more than 700 in April.Florida reported 53,285 cases, up 1.2% from a day earlier, below the average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days, according to the state’s health department. Deaths reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.California cases rose 2.7% to 101,697 while deaths rose 2.3% to 3,973, according to the state’s website.Boston Marathon Canceled (3 p.m. NY)The Boston Marathon was canceled by the Boston Athletic Association, which in a tweet said a virtual event will be staged in September. All participants who signed up for the April 20 race will be offered a refund and can participate in a virtual event Sept. 7–14. Participants in the virtual race will run the marathon distance 26.2 miles and upload data to a fitness app.Mayor Marty Walsh, in a tweet, said the organizers “with our input and support” determined a one-day race isn’t feasible. “This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year,” he said.Chicago Lets Workers Return (2:55 p.m. NY)More than 130,000 Chicago workers will be permitted to return to work on Wednesday as the city begins to reopen its economy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Industries permitted to open June 3, with specific safety guidelines in place, include office-based jobs, real-estate services, personal services such as salons and barber hops, and child-care centers.Italian Soccer to Restart June 20 (2:41 p.m. NY)Italy’s top soccer league will restart on June 20 after the national lockdown closed arenas, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said, according to newspaper La Repubblica. The decision was announced after Spadafora met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and soccer officials, Repubblica said on its website.Premier League to Resumes in Mid-June (1:50 p.m. NY)The English Premier League set a provisional restart date of June 17, although Chief Executive Richard Masters said safety requirements must be met before soccer matches resume. The league has 92 outstanding matches for the season.The league will restart with Aston Villa facing Sheffield United at home with Manchester City playing against Arsenal. Matches will take place without fans. The BBC will broadcast games for free for the first time once matches resume, the network said separately.Egypt has Most Cases in One Day (1:30 p.m. NY)Egypt reported 1,127 new cases, the most for one day in the Arab world’s most populous nation, and 29 new deaths, the Health Ministry said.France Paves Way to Reopen (12:55 p.m. NY)France will lift domestic travel restrictions and let most bars, restaurants and museums reopen starting Tuesday following weeks of stringent controls to contain the epidemic. Officials said confinement measures were more effective than expected in combating the disease’s spread. “Freedom will finally become the rule again, and prohibition the exception,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday, following a cabinet meeting.In areas including Paris and the surrounding region, lifting curbs will be slower. Bars and restaurants will be able to open only outdoor spaces, and sports centers will not open until the next phase starting June 22.SEC Opens Inquiry on Stimulus (12:30 p.m. NY)The Securities and Exchange Commission has started an inquiry into companies that received U.S. stimulus funds, scrutinizing whether representations made in loan applications were consistent with disclosures in securities filings, according to three people familiar with the matter.The SEC’s enforcement division has sent letters to some companies that got funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, asking for information about how the funds were being used and for copies of loan applications, these people said.One person said investigators may be focusing on companies whose dire condition qualified them for paycheck loans but whose financial disclosures prior to the outbreak didn’t reflect such vulnerability.VA Trims Use of Trump-Touted Drug (12:20 p.m. NY)The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is reducing its use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, Secretary Robert Wilkie told a House Appropriations Committee panel on Thursday. The VA’s use of the drug peaked at the same time it did in the rest of the nation after President Donald Trump touted its use in March despite a lack of clinical evidence that it works.“We started ratcheting it down when we went more to remdesivir and we went to the convalescent plasma,” Wilkie said. “Last week we only used it three times.”Some analyses have found hydroxychloroquine associated with more deaths in Covid-19 patients given the drug’s heart risks compared with patients who didn’t use the treatment. Wilkie said he relied on the intent of a so-called Right to Try law pushed by Trump and passed by Congress in 2018 meant to increase access to experimental drugs.“This Congress was very clear in saying that if people of sound mind ask to be given experimental treatments because that may be the last thing that separates them from life and death then we do that,” he said. “The other option is to do nothing.”Italy’s Death Lowest in 4 Days (12:15 p.m. NY)Italy reported 593 new cases on Thursday, a slight rise from from 584 a day earlier. New deaths were 70, the fewest in four days, down from 117 on Wednesday. The country’s death toll is 33,142.The government will weigh regional data at the end of the week before further relaxing containment measures with free movement within the country from June 3.Cuomo Expands Mask Order (12:03 p.m. NY)New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order that lets owners of private businesses deny entry to anyone who doesn’t wear a mask or face covering. “We’re giving the store owner the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come it,” Cuomo said at a Brooklyn news conference.Later in his briefing, Cuomo defended the new order, saying individuals “don’t have a right to expose the store owner to the virus” or the right “to expose other patrons in the store to the virus.”New cases rose 0.5%, up from the 0.4% one-week average.Florida Cases Rise Below Average (11:50 a.m.)Florida reported 53,285 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up 1.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.Moscow Revises Death Count Higher (11:10 a.m. NY)Moscow’s health department said deaths linked to Covid-19 in April more than doubled after the count was broadened to include direct as well as related cases. While 636 deaths are blamed on the pandemic, an additional 756 people died of other causes while testing positive, according to a statement. Using the new methodology, the Russian capital’s virus death rate rose to 2.8% from 1.4%, it said.The city said it’s following the World Health Organization’s recommendations from mid-April to record fatalities “where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.” Moscow had 1,753 more deaths in April than the three-year average, an increase of 17%, the department said.Trump Acknowledges ‘Very Sad Milestone’ (9:37 a.m. NY)President Donald Trump on Thursday publicly acknowledged the death toll of the U.S. outbreak had reached 100,000.Port Authority to Seek Fed Aid (9:35 a.m. NY)The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will seek a short-term loan from a Federal Reserve relief program aimed at buying bonds from local and state governments under stress from the pandemic. The agency faces a $3 billion loss over two years tied to a 97% drop in airport traffic, a 95% decline in PATH train ridership and a 40% cut in bridge and tunnel traffic, according to a statement issued after the board approved making the request.White House Scraps Eco Forecast (9:30 a.m. NY)The White House won’t issue a formal economic forecast that would show Covid-19’s impact, according to two people familiar with the matter. One said the administration lacks the data to meet the deadline for the forecast, and the other said the unprecedented nature of the pandemic makes a forecast impossible.The outlook is usually in the “mid-session review,” issued in July or August, as a follow up to the budget released in February.Poland Surprises With Third Rate Cut (9:07 a.m. NY)Poland unexpectedly lowered borrowing costs for the third time in three months to stem the economic damage from the pandemic. The National Bank of Poland reduced its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.1% from 0.5% on Thursday, following cuts of one percentage point in March and April. All 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted no change.Iceland’s Airport Testing Plan Hits Snag (9:03 a.m. NY)Iceland’s plans to test every passenger arriving at its international airport for Covid-19 has hit a snag, after it emerged that the island doesn’t have enough testing facilities. Opening up the country to foreign travelers is a crucial step to lift the economy, which is forecast to contract 9% this year.U.S. Jobless Rolls Shrink for First Time in Pandemic (9:01 a.m. NY)U.S. states’ jobless rolls shrank for the first time during the pandemic in a sign people are starting to return to work, even as millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits.Continuing claims, which tally Americans’ ongoing benefits in state programs, fell to 21.1 million for the week ended May 16, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 2.12 million in the week ended May 23, to bring the 2 1/2-month total above 40 million.Separate data showed that U.S. orders for durable goods sank sharply for a second month in April as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the manufacturing industry.Johnson to Set Out Results of U.K. Virus Response Review (8:51 a.m. NY)“The Prime Minister will be able to set out later what we have concluded as a result of that review and to talk in some more detail about the recovery plan and what the next steps are likely to be,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman, James Slack, said on a call with reporters Thursday.Johnson will speak at a 5 p.m. press conference with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. The prime minister’s office also dismissed a police finding that Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s top aide, may have broken lockdown rules, insisting the matter is now closed.Separately, the U.K.’s coronavirus tracing program was hit by technical problems on the day of its launch, with some health-care workers unable to log on to the system. The so-called Test and Trace service is a key part of Johnson’s plan to help the British economy return to normality.AstraZeneca Joins With Oxford Biomedica to Produce Shot (8:33 a.m. NY)AstraZeneca Plc joined forces with Oxford Biomedica Plc to help produce one of the world’s fastest-moving potential vaccines against Covid-19. Oxford Biomedica will produce multiple batches of the vaccine this year and give AstraZeneca access to its Oxbox manufacturing center, according to a statement Thursday. AstraZeneca has been working with the University of Oxford on the inoculation.Third of Russians Believe Threat Is Overblown: Poll (8:26 a.m. NY)Nearly a third of Russians believe that the threat from the coronavirus crisis has been massively overblown, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday. The survey of 7,600 people from across Russia was conducted on May 21-26 by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.Harrods Set to Reopen (7 a.m. NY)Luxury British retailer Harrods is set to reopen its flagship London store in June, with “significant” social distancing measures in place, and unveiled plans to open an outlet shop to sell stock left over from the season.The company plans to use footfall monitoring technology to limit capacity at its main Knightsbridge store and ensure social distancing can be maintained. Specific doors will be designated for entering and exiting the store, which was closed in March as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread in Britain.The new concept store, based in West London’s Westfield mall, has been designed to allow more space for customers, the company said. “In the new world in which we find ourselves, the economy needs businesses willing to look at its business model and current operations and think differently to enable growth, while protecting its customers and employees,” Managing Director Michael Ward said. “Harrods Outlet allows us to enable better social distancing across a larger footprint.”WHO Warns Against Austerity (6:37 a.m. NY)The World Health Organization warned against austerity in health spending as Europe’s economies reel from the effects of lockdowns to rein in the coronavirus. “We must learn from the mistakes of the past,” when public spending on health fell in the wake of the euro crisis, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a briefing.Cuts in public spending on health shift costs to households who may already be facing financial insecurity, the WHO’s European office warned. Kluge called for solidarity among European governments. “If there’s something we have learned so far it’s that one country, even if it’s doing a great job, is not standing alone. We are safe only when everyone is safe.”‘Safer’ for BOE to Err With Too Much Easing (6:22 a.m. NY)It’s safer for the Bank of England to ease too much rather than too little as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic, according to policy maker Michael Saunders. The U.K. is at risk of a relatively slow recovery from the crisis, which could prove especially damaging, Saunders said on a webinar Thursday. Failing to add more stimulus now could see the economy slip into a “lowflation trap.”“The costs of policy error are, to an extent, asymmetric at present,” he said. “It is safer to err on the side of easing somewhat too much, and then if necessary tighten as capacity pressures eventually build, rather than ease too little and find the economy gets stuck in a low-inflation rut.” The pound slid after the comments and money markets moved to price in a 10 basis-point interest-rate cut for May 2021. That would take the key rate to zero.Synthetic Bio Pioneer Ginkgo Raises $70 Million (6 a.m. NY)Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. has raised $70 million in an effort to build out DNA-based Covid-19 testing on a massive scale. The firm is best known for its efforts to design, modify and manufacture organisms to make industrial processes cheaper and more efficient — for example, it’s working to help program bacteria for treatments as living medicines. Now, Gingko is looking to repurpose the DNA-sequencing and automation infrastructure it developed to read and modify living cells to help address the nation’s shortfall of diagnostic testing.The U.S. has vastly scaled up its testing and is now processing somewhere between 300,000 and 450,000 each day, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer initiative to compile virus data. But those numbers still fall far short of the tens of millions that some experts have suggested are needed daily to reopen the economy safely and return to a new normal.DNA sequencing, Gingko is betting, might allow those efforts to scale up far more rapidly and cheaply to help achieve that end. The company is worth about $4.2 billion, based on a September effort that raised $290 million. The latest round includes investors such as DNA-sequencing giant Illumina Inc.Google Launches ‘Scam Spotter’ (6 a.m. NY)Alphabet Inc.’s Google has created “Scam Spotter” in partnership with Cybercrime Support Network, an organization that supports victims of online crimes. The website is intended to simplify and organize expert advice about coronavirus-related scams. Scammers have taken advantage of “fear and uncertainty,” around the virus, leading to approximately $40 million in fraud losses, Google said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • With M&A Hit, Wall Street Bankers Keep Busy With Stock Sales
    Bloomberg

    With M&A Hit, Wall Street Bankers Keep Busy With Stock Sales

    (Bloomberg) -- Wall Street bankers are a lot less busy these days, what with the pandemic-induced drop-off in mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings.But there’s a gritty, less glamorous dealmaking realm that has held up, and it’s helping banks offset some of that lost M&A and IPO revenue. A variety of companies, looking for liquidity in the weak economy, are selling off big stakes they’ve long held in public corporations.The latest came Monday when French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi launched a $13 billion sale of its 16-year-old, 21% stake in Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. Regeneron, a New York-based biopharmaceutical firm, agreed to buy back about $5 billion of stock while the remaining $7 billion was sold to public investors in the largest public equity offering in the heath-care industry on record, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.Sanofi’s move came a few weeks after the pandemic’s first big deal of this kind, PNC Financial Services Group Inc.’s sale of its quarter-century-old stake of more than $13 billion in BlackRock Inc. The sale was the second-largest equity offering in the U.S. since Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $25 billion IPO in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.PNC’s BlackRock stake was picked up by existing investors including Wellington Management, Capital Group Cos. and Fidelity Investments, according to people familiar with the matter. At least four state investment vehicles from the Middle East also took part in the offering, the people said.More such sales are coming. SoftBank Group Corp. raised $11.5 billion from transactions related to its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. which it bought in 2000, and another $2.9 billion capitalizing a 5% stake in its wireless arm. It is also closing in on a deal to sell its roughly 25% T-Mobile US Inc. stake, worth about $20 billion, with a portion being sold to Deutsche Telekom AG, people familiar with the matter have said.These transactions so far account for some of the biggest-ever announced of their kind. All told, there’s been $80.6 billion over 21 secondary offerings announced this year, which beats $53.1 billion over 36 such deals during the same period last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.That compares with a 33% drop to $22 billion in volume this year for IPOs in the U.S., the data shows. M&A activity involving U.S.-based targets plummeted 62% during the same period, sinking to $241 billion, according to the data.For Wall Street, the secondary offerings aren’t as lucrative as other dealmaking but they require less work. Banks usually receive about 1% to 2% of the deal size for advisers fees, compared with 5% to 7% for handling an IPO. But IPOs often involve intensive road shows lasting weeks.Jim Cooney, head of equity capital markets for the Americas at Bank of America Corp., said selling stakes can make sense in the current economy. “The market prefers that companies stick to their core mission and monetize non-strategic assets before selling their own equity,” he said.The offerings mark another way that companies, distressed or not, have been hunting for liquidity since the beginning of the pandemic. Some have drawn down revolving credit lines, sold bonds or new shares and sold stakes to private equity firms. Investors have been willing buyers of shares, attracted by the discounts since shares are marketed at prices below where the stock is trading.These stake sales have investors speculating on what holdings could be unwound next. Here are some sizable ones to watch based on Bloomberg’s data. Bloomberg News isn’t aware of talks about potential sales of these stakes.SoftBank, UberSoftBank is Uber Technologies Inc.’s largest shareholder with a 13% stake worth $7.7 billion. The Japanese conglomerate, led by founder Masayoshi Son, forecasts an operating loss of 1.4 trillion yen ($13 billion) for the fiscal year ended in March after writing down values of the Vision Fund’s investments including WeWork and OneWeb, a satellite operator that filed for bankruptcy.While it isn’t SoftBank’s oldest or most sizable investment, it could help to recoup some losses.Walgreens Boots, AmerisourceBergenWalgreens Boots Alliance Inc. is the largest shareholder in AmerisourceBergen Corp. with a 28% stake, worth about $5.3 billion. AmerisourceBergen recently made an offer to buy the Walgreens pharmaceutical wholesale division, Reuters reported earlier this month.The news had analysts speculating it could be part of a transaction related to Walgreens exiting part of its stake in AmerisourceBergen. The two companies first saw their paths intertwine in 2013 through a $400 million distribution deal that was supposed to last a decade.Nestle, L’OrealSanofi’s deal to sell Regeneron stock also had analysts speculating it could buy back L’Oreal SA’s 9.4% stake in the drug company.That, in turn, raises the possibility that L’Oreal would buy back a 23% stake worth $35.5 billion that Nestle SA holds in the French cosmetics maker. Since this is a 40-year plus relationship, the deal idea has been long pitched by bankers. Over the years, both sides have said that the investment is long-term.HKEx, Kweichow MoutaiHong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., owner of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has a 8.5% stake worth $20 billion in distiller Kweichow Moutai Co.Kweichow Moutai has become a favorite stock in mainland China, and is up 15% this year, while the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index fell 6.7%. Cashing out could help fuel HKEx’s ambitions as a dealmaker. It made a surprise bid for the London Stock Exchange last year.Mondelez, Dr PepperMondelez International Inc., the maker of Oreo cookies and Triscuit crackers, holds about about 13% of Keurig Dr Pepper, following a deal in 2018 when Keurig took control of the soda maker. In early March, right as the pandemic led to lockdowns in North America, Mondelez, and another investor connected to JAB Holdings BV called Maple Holdings BV,sold a $1.1 billion stake in Dr Pepper.The broader question for investors is whether Mondelez could sell more of its shares, Bank of America analyst Bryan Spillane said at the time. Mondelez could tap its equity stakes as a source of liquidity to fund acquisitions, he said.Coke, MonsterThe Coca-Cola Co. owns more than 18% of Monster Beverage Corp.’s stock, making it the Corona, California-based company’s largest shareholder, and Monster also uses Coke’s distribution network. While Coke took the minority stake back in 2014 in a push to capitalize on promising new brands, the beverage giant is getting more aggressive with its own offerings, which has sparked tensions with Monster. Analysts have been trying to figure out what Coke’s energy products mean for the future of the partnership.Liberty Broadband, CharterA 26% stake in Charter Communications Inc. has become a crown jewel for John Malone’s Liberty Broadband Corp. which has guided the company on acquisitions since it invested in 2013. But Malone, a savvy dealmaker, has not stopped reshaping his portfolio even in a pandemic and helped pull off a merger of Liberty Global’s U.K. business with Telefonica SA’s earlier this month.(Updates with BlackRock investors in fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    YouTube Virus Misinformation Fight Trips on Drug Touted by Trump

    (Bloomberg) -- YouTube’s battle against Covid-19 misinformation is causing collateral damage as the world’s largest online video service struggles to pick up on nuances of an increasingly complex and political topic.Since January, California pulmonologist Roger Seheult has posted regular medical lectures about the novel coronavirus on his YouTube channel, MedCram. His audience jumped to more than 700,000 subscribers. But as the virus spread in the spring, YouTube deleted five of the MedCram clips, including two about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine and one about Remdesivir, an experimental Covid-19 treatment developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.Seheult appealed the decisions. Viewer complaints flooded in; one fan started a petition demanding YouTube stop “censoring” the footage. For Seheult, YouTube’s new rules were applied without explanation. “It’s like you’re in a hockey game,” he said. “And you keep getting called for penalties, but you don’t know what the penalties are.”According to YouTube, the referee made a mistake.“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” a YouTube spokesman said on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reached out for comment. “When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.” The five MedCram videos are back on the site now.The incident is another flash point in the debate over the role of internet gatekeepers like YouTube and its parent, Alphabet Inc.’s Google. On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump railed against social-media companies after Twitter Inc. fact-checked some of his tweets. He’s also preparing an executive order that could limit liability protections from the largest user-generated networks: Twitter, Facebook Inc. and YouTube.At the same time, Democratic lawmakers have chastised YouTube for not removing conspiracy theories about the pandemic swiftly enough. In a letter to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, released on Thursday, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki wrote that the company’s automated systems detected a majority of “dangerous or misleading” videos about the virus. “The complex nature of misinformation online presents a number of challenges for platforms such as YouTube and I welcome your suggestions as to what we can do better,” she added.In addition to this political pressure, YouTube has been inundated with virus videos, while the pandemic has disrupted its contract workforce doing content moderation.“YouTube has a really tough job,” said Kyle Allred, MedCram’s co-founder and producer. “But the reality is: YouTube’s the second biggest search engine in the world. If our videos aren’t on YouTube, we don’t have the benefit of reaching as many people.”During the pandemic, YouTube has aggressively moderated virus videos after years of a more laissez-faire approach. The company has pulled thousands of clips for promoting misleading information or advice that conflicts with public health agencies. To filter footage, YouTube relies on viewers flagging videos, automated software and legions of human moderators.At the best of times, the system is sometimes heavy-handed or too lenient. In March, the company said it had to limit its use of human moderators, due to remote work limitations, and would lean more on machines to make decisions.YouTube’s challenge has grown even harder as medical videos pour onto the site and the debate about the pandemic response evolves from a mostly scientific discussion into a political fight.Trump has said he took hydroxychloroquine for about two weeks and the president has promoted it as a possible coronavirus therapy, despite an outcry from medical professionals about its unproven efficacy and potential side effects.At times, YouTube has filtered out sham science, such as videos promoting fake cures for Covid-19. More controversially, it has acted against doctors departing from public health advice. In April, YouTube removed videos by two doctors in Bakersfield, California, who used their YouTube channel to call for an end to social-distancing policies.Seheult, the pulmonologist, said his videos are nothing like that. Instead, MedCram clips dissect medical studies and early research, called preprints, related to the virus. Seheult narrates the findings and statistics -- low-key footage that, thanks to the pandemic, now draws a large audience.It seems Seheult was struck by YouTube’s algorithms scanning footage about Covid-19 cures. All five removed videos focused on potential treatments. YouTube says it relies on medical advisers and public agencies for guidance on how to handle videos about health issues. Yet the scientific consensus on some Covid-19 treatments is still taking shape. A study in The Lancet medical journal, released last week, linked hydroxychloroquine with increased risk of death and heart ailments.The YouTube spokesperson declined to cite the reason why the MedCram videos were initially removed, beyond noting that it was a mistake.The team behind MedCram is happy to have their work back on the world’s biggest video site. But they still feel frustrated with the minimal communication from YouTube. “We’re grateful to have our website MedCram.com where we don’t have to worry about censorship,” said Allred.(Updates with information on Trump executive order, YouTube CEO letter to Congress in eighth and ninth paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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