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Brand management company takes controlling interest in parent of Toys R Us

A New York-based brand management firm that already owns Anne Klein and Joseph Abboud is taking a controlling stake in the parent company of the iconic Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands. Yehuda Shmidman, cofounder, chairman, and CEO at WHP Global, declined to offer the terms of the financial agreement in the deal with Tru Kids Inc., which closed on Friday. Tru Kids was formed in January 2019 when it acquired Toys R Us’s intellectual property during its liquidation in 2018. Shmidman has been a vice chairman of Tru Kids since early 2019. The deal, announced Monday, comes nearly two months after the closure of the only two Toys R Us stores that were part of a small US comeback attempt by the iconic toy chain. Both stores, which had opened in November 2019, were based in malls. The US Toys R Us online business remains operational. And outside of the United States, Toys R Us and Babies R Us generate more than $2 billion in global retail sales annually through nearly 900 branded stores and ecommerce sites in over 25 countries. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Spain to try a four-day work week

For years, advocates for a four-day workweek have argued that a compressed schedule could lead to more productivity and a better work-life balance — a perspective that has gained credence in some countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has wrought drastic changes to the way people work. Spain is about to find out firsthand whether it works. The country is poised to become one of the first to experiment with a 32-hour workweek, which would allow workers to spend less time at the office without any change in pay. Exactly what the pilot program will look like is unclear: An industry ministry source told the Guardian that virtually every detail was still up for negotiation, including how many companies will be involved and how long the experiment will last. — WASHINGTON POST



Blackstone and Starwood Capital to acquire Extended Stay America

The investment firms Blackstone and Starwood Capital announced Monday that they planned to acquire the hotel operator Extended Stay America for $6 billion, the latest deal premised on a post-pandemic rebound in travel. The deal is a bet that the mid-tier hotel chain that provides guests with amenities like kitchens and laundry facilities will prosper as the US economy recovers. The chain had a 74 percent occupancy rate last year, above the industry average, with many rooms filled by essential workers. The company’s new owners hope those rooms will soon add more tourists and traveling professionals. Extended Stay has about 600 US locations. — NEW YORK TIMES


Two of Canada’s biggest cable providers join forces

Rogers Communications agreed to buy rival Shaw Communications in a C$20 billion ($16 billion) deal that would unite Canada’s two largest cable providers and shake up its wireless industry. The transaction, if approved by regulators, would merge companies controlled by two of Canada’s most powerful business families, who have cooperated as well as competed in the battle against telecommunications rivals Telus Corp. and BCE. Rogers and Shaw have carved up, and sometimes traded, rival cable territories — with Shaw focused on Canada’s western provinces and Rogers dominating Ontario. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Volkswagen to build six electric-car battery factories in Europe

Volkswagen is stepping up its game to become the world’s biggest electric-car maker with a plan to build six battery factories in Europe and global investments in charging stations. The manufacturer, which already has agreements for two sites, is exploring options for another four plants for a total capacity of 240 gigawatt-hours by the end of the decade, VW said Monday in a statement. VW has the most comprehensive EV plan in the industry that’ll add about 50 purely battery-powered vehicles to its lineup by 2030. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Stripe now valued at $95 billion

The online payment company Stripe continues to attract investors, raising $600 million in funding to reach a whopping company valuation of $95 billion. Stripe is by far the most valuable private fintech company in the world. Robinhood, the trading platform recently making headlines, just raised $3 billion to reach a valuation of around $11.2 billion. The company, which makes software that allows companies to accept online or in-person card payments, said it will use the capital in the latest round of funding to invest in its European operations, particularly its Dublin headquarters. Stripe has two headquarters, the other location is in San Francisco. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Japan considering undersea cables for offshore wind farms

Japan’s economy ministry will consider proposals for laying undersea cables for offshore wind farms to help expand the country’s use of renewable energy, Nikkei reported. To get power to where it’s needed, one proposal is to run underwater cables along the Pacific Ocean side of Japan from the northern island of Hokkaido to the Tokyo region, the paper reported. The total cost could reach as much as 1 trillion yen ($9.2 billion), but would be cheaper than running cables over land, according to the report. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Swiss police raid home of hacker who says he broke into US security company’s network

Swiss authorities on Monday confirmed a police raid at the home of a Swiss hacker who took credit for helping to break into a US security-camera company’s online networks, part of what the hacker cited as an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of mass surveillance. The Federal Office of Justice said regional police in central Lucerne, acting on a legal assistance request from US authorities, on Friday carried out a house search involving a group of activist hackers using the name Tillie Kottmann. The group of “hacktivists’' say they were able to peer into hospitals, schools, factories, jails, and corporate offices for much of Monday and Tuesday of last week after gaining access to the systems of California startup Verkada. They said the action was aimed at raising awareness about mass surveillance. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


China orders Alibaba to sell media assets

The Chinese government has asked Alibaba to sell its media assets as officials are increasingly concerned about the technology giant’s growing influence over public opinion in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. Regulators have reviewed a list of Alibaba’s media assets and were shocked at how expansive the company’s interests have become and asked it to come up with a plan to substantially curtail the holdings, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, has built up a sprawling portfolio of media assets over the years, spanning BuzzFeed-style online outlets, newspapers, television-production companies, social-media, and advertising assets. Alibaba has a major stake in the Twitter-like Weibo, as well as other online and print news outlets, including the leading English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, The South China Morning Post. — BLOOMBERG NEWS