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Harvard-MIT’s Landmark Bio hires California executive as CEO

(From left) Ran Zheng, new Landmark Bio CEO, with Marty Schmidt, MIT provost; Alan Garber, Harvard University provost; and Emmanuel Ligner, Cytiva CEO; at the groundbreaking at the organization's new location in Watertown.Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer


Harvard-MIT’s Landmark Bio hires California executive as CEO

The Harvard- and MIT-backed life sciences venture that’s building a biologics manufacturing center in Watertown has hired a longtime biotechnology executive to be its CEO. The venture, now known as Landmark Bio, said on Thursday that it has tapped Ran Zheng, who most recently was chief technical officer at Orchard Therapeutics. Zheng, who has also had leadership roles at Genzyme (now Sanofi) and Amgen, is moving to the Boston area from California for the chief executive job. Landmark Bio on Thursday also held a ceremony to commemorate the start of construction on the 40,000-square-foot biomanufacturing plant that will be built at the Arsenal on the Charles in an existing brick building owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities. The project, expected to open in early 2022, is aimed at speeding up biotech discoveries in university labs by allowing researchers to bypass the long waits that are typical at contract manufacturers. In addition to manufacturing space, the facility will feature research and development labs, offices, and meeting spaces. Landmark Bio was previously known as the Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing. Financial backers include Harvard, MIT, Cytiva, Fujifilm, and Alexandria. About $75 million has been raised for the project so far. ― JON CHESTO



Target doling out $200 bonus checks to all employees

Workers at one of the nation’s largest retailers are about to get a little extra in their paycheck. Target said Thursday that it will give a $200 bonus to more than 340,000 full- and part-time retail and warehouse workers, as well as hourly corporate employees. The move, which will cost the company roughly $75 million, is the sixth such bonus the retail giant has announced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year and comes on the heels of a decision last year to raise the companywide minimum wage to $15 per hour. Target is one of a growing list of retailers, fast-food companies, and other large service-industry employers that have turned to bonuses and wage increases to retain and attract employees in an historically-tight labor market. In May, Target reported comparable sales grew 23 percent in the first quarter, and had climbed 35 percent over the last two years. ― TIM LOGAN



Maynard’s AquaBounty to build $200 million salmon farm in Ohio

AquaBounty Technologies said on Thursday that it plans to invest $200 million to build a new salmon farm in Pioneer, Ohio. This will be the Maynard-based company’s first large-scale commercial facility to grow its genetically engineered salmon. Construction is expected to begin later this year on the 479,000-square-foot complex, and commercial stocking of salmon will start there in 2023. The farm will employ more than 100 people. The state of Ohio is crafting an incentive package to help subsidize the project. The new farm will be able to produce 10,000 metric tons of fish a year, or about 22 million pounds, making it eight times the size of the company’s farm in Albany, Indiana. AquaBounty also has two smaller facilities on Prince Edward Island in Canada. ― JON CHESTO


Cambridge-based Nuvalent closes up 10 percent in first day of trading

Six months after emerging from stealth mode Nuvalent, a Cambridge biotech working on precision cancer drugs, raised $166 million in an initial public offering. The company, which sold 9,750,000 shares for $17 each, began trading on the Nasdaq Global Market Thursday under the symbol NUVL. Its stock rose by 10 percent from its IPO price to close the day at $18.75. Nuvalent plans to start its first clinical trial later this year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, for a drug that would treat a type of lung cancer, as well as other solid tumors. The startup is developing drugs that rely on enzyme blockers known as kinase inhibitors to keep cancer cells from growing. The company aims to overcome the challenges associated with already available kinase inhibitor drugs by designing its therapies to be resistant to known mutations. Since the company launched in late January, it has raised more than $185 million from investors including Bain Capital Life Sciences and Fidelity Management and Research Company. Nuvalent has 27 employees. ― ANISSA GARDIZY



Bayer will set aside $4.5 billion for potential claims involving Roundup

Bayer AG will set aside $4.5 billion in the second quarter to cover potential future exposure tied to its Roundup weedkiller. The additional provisions come on top of the $11.6 billion Bayer has previously said it plans to spend to resolve the Roundup litigation. That puts the potential overall costs at more than $16 billion, Chief Financial Officer Wolfgang Nickl confirmed on a call with investors. “This should remove uncertainty and ambiguity that’s been weighing on the company,” Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann said on the call. Bayer still hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will “largely end” the Roundup litigation with a ruling supporting the company, Baumann said. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS


‘Death Kitty’ ransomware linked to attack on South African port

South Africa’s port and rail company appears to have been targeted with a strain of ransomware that cybersecurity experts have linked to a series of high-profile data breaches likely carried out by crime gangs from Eastern Europe and Russia.The hackers left a ransom note on Transnet SOC Ltd.’s computers, claiming they encrypted the company’s files, including a terabyte of personal data, financial reports and other documents. The note instructed the firm to visit a chat portal on the dark web to enter negotiations.A probe into the motive for the attack is still underway, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a statement. Transnet spokeswoman Ayanda Shezi referred to the minister’s remarks and declined to comment further. The cyberattack on July 22 caused the company to declare force majeure at container terminals and switch to manual processing of cargo. Transnet’s Durban port alone handles more than half of the nation’s shipments and is the main gateway for other commodity exporters including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS



NYC mayor predicts more businesses will ban unvaccinated people

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he expects more businesses to ban customers who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus, seeing it as a way to prevent the upsurge of cases from triggering another round of restrictions. De Blasio said he’s reluctant to re-impose a mask mandate in the nation’s biggest city because encouraging residents to get vaccinated is the crucial way to beat back the pandemic. He applauded a decision by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the chief executive officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group, to require customers to be vaccinated starting in September. “This is a harbinger of things to come,” the mayor told reporters during a press briefing Thursday. His comments come as the number of new COVID-19 cases in the city this week surpassed a 7-day daily average of 1,000 for the first time since early May. De Blasio is requiring that municipal employees be vaccinated or wear masks on the job and be subject to weekly testing. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS



Retail traders swarm Robinhood’s stock despite lackluster debut

Zero-fee trading platform Robinhood Markets’s $2 billion initial public offering was eagerly welcomed by retail traders even as shares tumbled. Robinhood ranked as the top trade on Fidelity’s platform Thursday, with over 23,000 shares on buy orders as of 1:20 p.m. in New York. Runner-up Facebook clocked in with more than 12,000 buys, according to data compiled by the brokerage. It’s been a rocky ride for those newly minted Robinhood investors. The stock plunged more than 12 percent from its IPO price of $38 ― the lower end of its expected range ― before paring losses. The debut was unique, with Robinhood selling between 20 percent and 25 percent of its pre-IPO shares to its own retail investors, who fueled the platform’s massive growth amid the pandemic trading boom. While investors evidently dived in to buy Robinhood’s initial dip, its initial tumble marked the weakest open for a US IPO of comparable size since Uber Technologies’ debut in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ― BLOOMBERG NEWS