Business & Tech

Talking Points: Theatre District comeback, a pharma company gets sold, and more

The London-based Ambassador Theatre Group will operate the 117-year-old Colonial Theatre, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

The London-based Ambassador Theatre Group will operate the 117-year-old Colonial Theatre, which has been shuttered for more than a year.

Welcome to the Talking Points newsletter, your daily dose of business insight from Jon Chesto, plus a recap of the top stories for Monday, Jan. 9.

Chesto Means Business

Stage set for a comeback: The Theatre District’s next act is finally coming into focus.

Ambassador Theatre Group’s new lease for the Colonial Theatre will help finance crucial renovations to the Emerson College-owned building and potentially set it up for future runs of shows destined for Broadway. Fifteen months ago, there was talk about Emerson possibly turning part of it into a dining hall. Not anymore.


This is the latest victory for Boston’s performing arts community. Ernie Boch Jr. stepped up last year with his checkbook to sponsor the Wang and Shubert theaters after Citigroup pulled out. The Huntington Theatre’s managers worried about losing their longtime location, but the developers who bought the property agreed to preserve space for them.

But there are still challenges. Boston Lyric Opera, which had been at the Shubert until a rent dispute, still needs a new home. (BLO had been eyeing the Colonial, and it still may go there.) Questions remain about whether a section of Seaport Square will contain a performance space that could fill the void of civic amenities in that neighborhood. David Mugar transferred oversight of the Fourth of July fireworks celebration to the Boston Pops, but the quest for corporate sponsors continues.

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Rising rents and property values will continue to put pressure on venues, large and small. City officials shouldn’t rest with these wins, not if they want more happy endings.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

Market Wrap

Executive Summary

Care tied to how doctors are paid: The way doctors are paid just might improve the health care provided to patients, particularly those patients who are poorer, according to a Harvard Medical School study.

According to the Globe’s Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, the study looked at a type of coverage offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts that links physicians’ payments to dozens of health care quality measures. It found that quality for all patients improved, but the gains were greater for poorer patients.


The research, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, showed that improvement largely for things such as medical check-ups, cancer screenings, and blood pressure monitoring. Many experts believe this type of preventive care can help avoid difficult and costly health problems down the road.

Takeover by Takeda: In what has already been a flurry of activity, the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco is producing big news in the biotech world.

None bigger than Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. of Japan’s purchase of Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge in a deal valued at $5.2 billion.

The Globe’s Robert Weisman reports that Takeda already has a strong presence in Massachusetts with its 2008 acquisition of Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc., which operates a large cancer research center in Cambridge. The Ariad deal is another loss of an independent drug maker for Massachusetts and follows on the heels of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. selling its pancreatic cancer drug to France’s Ipsen SA, a deal announced on the eve of the conference.

Bank on rate increases: A healthy US economy could mean as many as three interest rate increases in 2017, the Globe’s Deirdre Fernandes writes.

At a meeting today of the Connecticut Business Industry Association, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, gave a speech outlining “remarkable progress” made by the economy. And in a pushback to some of the criticism thrown at the Fed, Rosengren defended the decision not to increase key interest rates in recent years.

“Our economy would not be as healthy as it is and we would thus not be near a tightening cycle now if we hadn’t been so aggressive then,” Rosengren said. The United States is in a better position since the recession than other developed countries, he said, pointing to lower unemployment and increasing wages as key indicators.

Taking the next step: An organization created to advance women-led businesses has a new leader at the helm, the Globe’s Katheleen Conti writes.

Elizabeth L. Hailer has been selected as the new executive director of The Commonwealth Institute. In her role, Hailer seeks to court a new generation of women in startups and biotech.

Hailer, who was selected from among 45 candidates after a four-month search, takes over for Aileen Gorman, who led the organization for nearly two decades.

Trending Pick

Trade winds: Reports of President-elect Donald Trump’s meeting with Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba Group, is getting some clicks for Bloomberg, USA Today, and Business Insider. Ma is promising his Chinese technology company will add 1 million jobs in the United States.

Line Items

Trump didn’t drive decision:

Chrysler expansion is not politically motivated -- Wall Street Journal

Dr Pepper drinks up success:

While Coca Cola falls flat -- Yahoo Finance

Apple eyes Arizona plant:

Site targeted as data center -- Business Insider

Small airports get big lift:

International flights are taking off -- New York Times


Minding the store: There is nothing new about an insider being picked to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, Beth Healy wrote in a story published in Monday’s Globe. The wild card this time around is President-elect Donald Trump nomination of Walter “Jay” Clayton as chairman of the agency signals a laxer approach to enforcement and regulations.

Under the Obama administration, there were record numbers of enforcements and tougher regulations were imposed. Clayton comes to the top job having worked as an attorney for some of the very companies he will now be responsible for regulating.

All of which makes it difficult to predict what the SEC will do under Clayton’s leadership, says Ian Roffman, a former senior trial attorney in the SEC’s Boston office. Though some are skeptical, Arthur Levitt, a former SEC chairman under President Clinton, said he doubts there will be a significant rollback of regulations under Clayton.

The Talking Points newsletter is compiled by George Brennan. Follow George on Twitter at @gpb227. Starting last Friday, we began using the Bloomberg Massachusetts stock index in the Market Wrap section. This basket of stocks includes companies from a range of industries; the index we previous used was comprised of life sciences companies. If you liked what you’ve read, please tell your friends to sign up.
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