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The week in business

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura HealeySteven Senne/Associated Press


AG Healey sues Grubhub over fees charged during pandemic

Attorney General Maura Healey is suing online food delivery service Grubhub for charging illegal fees to Massachusetts restaurants, saying the company violated a state provision intended to prop up the hospitality industry during the pandemic. In a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Thursday, Healey claims that the delivery company “routinely and knowingly” charged fees to restaurants that exceeded the parameters spelled out by the state that said no delivery service could tack on delivery fees greater than 15 percent of an order’s menu price during the public health emergency. Her office estimates those excess fees cost Massachusetts restaurants “tens of thousands of dollars.” The Chicago-based company could not immediately be reached for comment. Third-party delivery services like Grubhub, UberEats, and Doordash saw their sales surge in the early days of the pandemic, when customers in lockdown — forced to stay home and contemplate the contents of their pantries — turned to take-out in droves. After years of losing millions annually while engaged in a delivery battle royale, the companies saw record sales in 2020. Grubhub reported revenue of $1.8 billion, a 39 percent increase over 2019. In June Bloomberg estimated that the company accounted for 33 percent of all third-party food delivery sales in Boston, a higher market share than all but one other city in the US. ― JANELLE NANOS



Waltham’s PerkinElmer buys San Diego’s BioLegend for $5.3 billion

PerkinElmer has agreed to buy San Diego’s-based BioLegend, a manufacturer of antibodies and chemical reagents used by researchers, for about $5.3 billion, the largest transaction in the Waltham-based firm’s history. The local maker of diagnostics, lab equipment, and software said it is acquiring BioLegend to expand into fast-growing market segments, such as cell and gene therapy, and as well as enter new areas within its life sciences business. The acquisition highlights the Boston area’s growing influence in the sector, which is dominated by a handful of local companies including Boston Scientific, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Waters Corp. Prahlad Singh, the chief executive of PerkinElmer, said in a press release that the merger could “accelerate discoveries that help life science researchers … better understand and fight disease.” Gene Lay, founder and chief executive of BioLegend, added that the combination would allow PerkinElmer to work in additional areas in clinical diagnostics and food safety testing. The deal to buy BioLegend comes amid a string of acquisitions for PerkinElmer this year, including a $260 million purchase of Nexcelom Bioscience, which makes products for developing cell and gene therapies, as well as a $591 million deal to acquire diagnostics firm Oxford Immunotec. And last month PerkinElmer said announced that it agreed to buy Germany’s Sirion Biotech, a global maker of viral vector-based technologies, which aid in the delivery of cell and gene therapies, for an undisclosed amount. BioLegend, a privately held company, has more than 700 employees and is expected to generate $380 million in revenue in 2022. PerkinElmer will take over BioLegend’s campus in San Diego, where it will focus its global reagents business. The cash-and-stock transaction is expected to close by the end of the year. ― ANISSA GARDIZY



Boston’s PathAI acquires pathology lab Poplar Healthcare

PathAI, a Boston-based health technology startup, said on Monday that it has acquired Poplar Healthcare, one of the country’s largest pathology labs, as the company seeks to provide doctors a quicker way to diagnose medical ailments through use of its software. The tech company, whose artificial intelligence software helps pathologists analyze medical images, acquired Poplar for an undisclosed amount. Pathologists examine body and medical tissues to aid in diagnosing medical conditions. The acquisition was an eight-figure deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. As part of the deal, PathAI will absorb Poplar’s 350 employees, and maintain the company’s offices in Memphis. PathAI will now have roughly 550 employees in total. The acquisition provides PathAI access to Poplar’s network of over 500,000 patients, the company said. Now, as Poplar’s pathologists process patient samples, they will use PathAI’s software to try to provide more patients with quicker diagnoses of their ailments. Founded in 2016, PathAI uses artificial intelligence and machine learning software to solve a growing problem in pathology. PathAI’s acquisition comes two months after it closed $165 million in a funding round co-led by D1 Capital Partners and Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest health care providers. The company is also backed by General Catalyst, the Cambridge-based venture capital firm. It has received $255 million in funding to date, a company official said. ― PRANSHU VERMA



AI startup DataRobot raises $300 million

A hot market for startup funding and booming demand for smarter data analysis software are combining to fuel the rise of DataRobot. The Boston-based company on Tuesday raised $300 million of additional investment as it moves closer to going public. The private deal valued DataRobot, founded in 2012, at $6.3 billion, more than double the value it reached in a fund-raising round late last year. DataRobot’s software uses artificial intelligence to help companies sift through vast amounts of data and build useful models that can, for example, make predictions about customer behavior or forecast demand for products. A retail chain might use DataRobot to help decide which items to stock for back-to-school season, or a bank might use the software to forecast how many loans will go bad if the economy weakens. Typically, building models to make such predictions requires trained data scientists and software engineers, but DataRobot’s software aims to make the task easier for less-specialized workers. ― AARON PRESSMAN



Saint Vincent Hospital will cut services amid nurses’ strike

Saint Vincent Hospital said Wednesday that it will sharply cut back services, forcing patients to wait longer or go elsewhere for care, as a nurses’ strike that began nearly five months ago drags on without resolution. The Worcester hospital said it will close 80 inpatient beds, amounting to 30 percent of its medical and surgical capacity. It also will shutter 25 percent of its critical care beds and half of its beds for patients with psychiatric illness. Patients needing certain surgeries and procedures will face delays as the hospital closes a quarter of its operating and procedure rooms. The cuts begin Monday. Hospital officials, who have hired hundreds of temporary replacement nurses while their staff nurses picket outside, said it’s no longer sustainable for them to keep all services open. “It’s been an incredibly difficult decision because it will impact access to patient care,” said Carolyn Jackson, Saint Vincent’s chief executive. “We believe the [union] is being very irresponsible and needlessly prolonging the strike,” Jackson added. She said the cutbacks will require patients to wait longer in the emergency department before they can be admitted, and some may have to be transferred to other hospitals. The Massachusetts Nurses Association represents 700 nurses who have been on strike for 145 days over concerns about staffing and other issues. The union said it was dismayed by the hospital’s move to slash patient services and accused hospital leaders of trying to intimidate nurses. “It’s pretty unfortunate that they would come out with this about five days before we’re heading back to the table for good-faith negotiations,” said Marlena Pellegrino, a nurse who cochairs the local bargaining unit. ― PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY