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SJC sides with Oracle and Microsoft in dispute with DOR

EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images


SJC sides with Oracle and Microsoft in dispute with DOR

The state Supreme Judicial Court has sided with software titans Oracle and Microsoft in a widely-watched dispute with the state Department of Revenue over how much sales tax can be owed for software used by Massachusetts-based companies with employees in multiple states. The case involves the sale of software to Hologic, a medical device company based in Marlborough. Oracle and Microsoft had collected sales taxes on behalf of the state revenue department for the entire amount of software sold. However, Massachusetts law allows taxpayers to only pay sales tax on the amount of software to be used by employees in the state, while most of Hologic’s users for this software worked in other states. Oracle, Microsoft, and Hologic did not follow one of three possible paths to receive such relief at the time of sale and instead sought a refund through the abatement process after the fact. The revenue department denied that request and argued that the proper process wasn’t followed, but the Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ruled in favor of the three companies. Rich Jones, a lawyer for the companies, said he knows of several other Massachusetts-based companies with employees in multiple states facing the same issue. This ruling, he said, is a major victory for software vendors and their corporate clients in the state. (The ruling didn’t disclose the size of the refund Hologic could be receiving.) Officials in the revenue department said they are reviewing the decision and plan to issue guidance on the matter soon. — JON CHESTO



Norwegian joins competitors, launching Alaskan cruises in August

Norwegian Cruise Line plans to offer Alaska cruises starting in early August, joining several Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships in plotting returns to the sea after more than a year without US operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Norwegian Bliss will offer Alaska cruises for fully vaccinated passengers and crew starting on Aug. 7 from Seattle, Norwegian said in a statement Monday. With memories still fresh of the deadly outbreaks on cruise ships at the start of the pandemic, the cruise industry has faced numerous obstacles to starting up again. When Canada banned cruising through 2022, it was seen as a major impediment to the popular summer cruises to Alaska. Alaska cruises traditionally stop in Canada, because US maritime law bars foreign-flagged ships from transporting passengers directly between two US ports. But Congress last week approved a waiver on the rule, paving the way for Norwegian’s announcement. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Peloton to build factory in US

Peloton will open its first dedicated US factory in 2023, with an eye to expanding production capacity, reducing shipping times, expanding to new markets, and cutting prices. The factory, dubbed Peloton Output Park, will open in Troy Township in Ohio, chief executive John Foley said in an interview Monday. The facility will accelerate an expansion into Europe and other new markets, reduce geopolitical risk involving Asian manufacturing facilities, and improve economies of scale, Foley said. Over the past year, Peloton has experienced extreme supply constraints amid spiking demand for its products during the pandemic. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Bitcoin rebounds after tough weekend

Bitcoin rebounded from its roller-coaster weekend, with prices on track for the biggest gain in more than three months. The world’s largest cryptocurrency advanced nearly 13 percent to close at $39,200 in New York. Digital currencies have been gripped by volatility in the past two weeks, with Bitcoin prices plunging as much as 18 percent on Sunday. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Airbnb revamps platform

Airbnb unveiled a major revamp of its service in an effort to woo hosts and guests to the home-rental platform amid a post-pandemic travel surge. The upgraded site is designed to offer improved search flexibility for travelers, helping them to quickly find rentals near popular tourist destinations, like national parks, by offering more flexibility in search parameters, dates, and destinations. Airbnb will also make it easier to become a host, simplifying the process to just 10 steps. Other improvements for guests include a faster checkout process, an easy access arrival guide for upcoming stays, and a “refreshed” cancellation policy that will increase clarity around policies, according to a statement Monday. Hosts will see a more centralized reservation booking system and improvements to their messaging system so they can send faster responses to guest queries. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


PG&E to sell its San Francisco headquarters

PG&E has reached a deal to sell its San Francisco headquarters to real estate joint venture Hines Atlas for $800 million, part of the utility giant’s move to cut costs after it emerged from bankruptcy last year. PG&E plans to move into its new headquarters in Oakland next year, according to a statement Monday. It intends to distribute about $400 million from its gain on the sale to customers over five years to offset bill increases as it invests in safety and operational improvements. The move makes PG&E one of the most high-profile companies to leave San Francisco for Oakland, a less expensive city located just across San Francisco Bay. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Congestion at LA port gets worse

Ship congestion outside the busiest US gateway for trade with Asia worsened over the past week, as the number of container vessels queuing off the coast of Los Angeles reached the most in two weeks. A total of 21 container ships were anchored waiting for entry into LA-Long Beach as of Sunday, compared with 19 a week earlier, according to officials who monitor marine traffic in San Pedro Bay. The bottleneck has persisted since November, peaking around 40 vessels in early February. Another 16 container carriers are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, with 10 of those expected to drop anchor and join the line. The average wait for berth space was 5.9 days as of Friday, compared with 6.1 a week earlier, according to LA port figures. That number had peaked around 8 days in April. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


US businesses turn to ESG loans

US companies are increasingly converting their borrowings to sustainability-linked loans as the asset class finally takes off in the world’s biggest economy. US loans with terms tied to environmental, social, and governance targets have jumped to about $52 billion in volume this year through May 21, a 292 percent increase compared with all of 2020, according to Bloomberg data. Such debt was already picking up last year before COVID-19 struck due to growing investor appetite for sustainable themes. While the loans lag those in Europe, where the debt structure originated, a green policy push by President Biden and greater awareness of social justice is bringing scrutiny to both bank lending and corporate exposure to ESG risks. Cisco Systems, BlackRock, and General Mills are among the firms tying revolving credit facilities to targets such as carbon emissions, renewable energy, and workplace equality. — BLOOMBERG NEWS