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Facebook asks court to dismiss antitrust lawsuits

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg


Facebook asks court to dismiss antitrust lawsuits

Facebook has asked a court to dismiss state and federal antitrust lawsuits that accuse it of abusing its market power in social networking to crush smaller competitors. The social media giant said Wednesday that the complaints “do not credibly claim” that its conduct harmed either consumers or market competition. The antitrust suits, filed in December by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states, are seeking remedies that could include a forced spinoff of the social network’s popular Instagram and WhatsApp services. “As we said when the FTC and the state attorneys general announced these lawsuits, people around the world use our products not because they have to, but because we make their lives better,” Facebook said in a statement. The FTC suit asserts that Facebook has engaged in a “systematic strategy” to eliminate its competition, including by purchasing smaller up-and-coming rivals like Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. New York Attorney General Letitia James, in announcing the states complaint, echoed this sentiment, saying that Facebook “used its monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition, all at the expense of everyday users.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Trade group for colleges and universities has a new leader

The state’s private colleges and universities will have a new person leading their trade group, but he will have a familiar face. The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, aka AICUM, has promoted its general counsel, Rob McCarron, to be its next president and chief executive. McCarron will take over for Richard Doherty, who plans to retire on May 31 after 16 years leading the association. McCarron is also a longtime AICUM employee, having first joined the organization in 2006. In his current role, McCarron has led government relations and legal activities for the group and helped guide its efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to develop protocols for safely reopening school campuses. Over the years, he has developed and maintained relationships with the state’s congressional delegation, the Baker administration, and leadership in the Massachusetts House and Senate, advocating on behalf of a range of issues including increased funding for research and for research. Before joining AICUM, he was director of legal affairs for the Massachusetts House Ways and Means committee. — JON CHESTO



Inflation was up slightly in February

Inflation rose modestly in February, nudged by an increase in gasoline prices that lifted the overall Consumer Price Index by 0.4 percent. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, the index rose by 0.1 percent, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. With the prospect of faster economic growth on the horizon, investors and market watchers have been paying close attention to the threat of heightened inflation, although it has yet to materialize for the most part. — NEW YORK TIMES


Nearly 500,000 new businesses opened in first year of pandemic

Almost half a million new businesses opened in the United States in the first year of the pandemic, Yelp Inc. data showed, illustrating the resilience of American entrepreneurs. The 487,577 openings were determined by counting new businesses listed on Yelp’s online platform, which enables consumers to review local firms. The report by the company, released Wednesday, looked at openings from March 11, 2020 — when the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic — to March 1 of this year. The number of new businesses is 14 percent lower than a year earlier. New restaurants continued to open at a relatively quick pace despite the pandemic. Of the newly opened establishments, 76,051 were restaurant and food businesses. An additional 85,446 culinary-based operations reopened after temporarily closing to comply with local regulations to curb COVID-19 transmissions. Almost 60 percent of the new business openings were in the professional, local, home, and auto sectors, Yelp said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Hilton Grand Vacations acquiring Diamond Resorts

Hilton Grand Vacations is acquiring Diamond Resorts International Inc., the time-share company owned by Apollo Global Management Inc., in a stock deal with an equity value of about $1.4 billion, according to a statement Wednesday. Hilton Grand Vacations shareholders will own about 72 percent of the combined company with Apollo and other Diamond shareholders owning approximately 28 percent, according to the statement. The pandemic has battered the lodging business over the past year, keeping tourists and leisure travelers home. But vaccines have fueled optimism of a rebound in 2021. Time-share companies, which sell fractional stakes in vacation properties, have long catered to young families by offering units that include kitchens and extra bedrooms. Diamond owns 92 resorts, while Hilton Grand has 62 properties, according to the statement. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


GameStop continues its roll

GameStop surged for a sixth day, its longest winning streak in over six months as retail investors renewed their commitment to the stock amid optimism on the company’s turnaround plans. GameStop has now soared over 140 percent over that six-day rally but remains a long way from the Jan. 28 intraday record of $483. Chewy Inc. founder and activist investor Ryan Cohen continues to shake up operations at the video-game retailer. The Grapevine, Texas-based company said Monday Cohen would lead a new committee focused on its digital transformation. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Goldman Sachs to commit $10b in investment capital to aid Black women

Goldman Sachs said it will commit $10 billion in investment capital over the coming decade to help address the disproportionate biases that Black women have faced for generations. The bank also will put $100 million toward philanthropy under the program, which has a goal of impacting the lives of 1 million Black women by 2030, according to a statement Wednesday. As part of the initiative, New York-based Goldman is working with nonprofit organization Hope Enterprise Corp., mayors and historically Black colleges and universities across the South to distribute and lend capital. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Citigroup to punish firms that kept payments accidentally sent to Revlon lenders

Citigroup is punishing investment firms that kept payments the bank accidentally sent to Revlon lenders by blocking them from certain new debt offerings led by the bank, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The bank is choosing to not invite these money managers, who hung on to over $500 million, to its new-issue debt deals, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. Firms targeted include Brigade Capital Management, HPS Investment Partners, and Symphony Asset Management, the people said. These firms and others tangled in a lawsuit with Citigroup can still participate if an issuer specifically requests for them to be able to join their offering, one of the people added. — BLOOMBERG NEWS