Welcome to Talking Points AM for Monday, Nov. 12, a day after Veterans Day. Though today is a federal holiday, many of us are at work. Still, we should all take a moment to honor the service and sacrifices of our troops and their families, both present and past. US stock markets are open, but the bond market is closed. Here's what's happening in business. Here’s the latest business news, followed by highlights from my morning newsletter.
Off the top
Jeff Immelt, yenta: There ’s an interesting twist in this AM’s $5.7 billion buyout of athenahealth. The acquirers are Veritas Capital, a New York private equity firm, and a PE fund of Elliott Management. After the deal, Watertown based athenahealth will be combined with Virence Health, a GE Healthcare unit that Veritas acquired earlier this year. Immelt, the CEO of GE until June 2017, is currently the chairman of, yes, athenahealth. He was quoted in the press release today, though it didn’t say whether he’d have a role in the combined company. People close to the deal say Immelts involvement was just a coincidence. But we wonder... (Boston Globe)
Culp falls flat: Meanwhile, over at Boston-based Genereal Electric, new CEO Larry Culp went on CNBC today to reassure investors that he will aggressively search for ways to turnaround the struggling industrial company. Here are the highlights of his appearance, via Bloomberg:
• “We’re going to try to look at everything and all of our options again with a sense of urgency,” Culp said.
• Culp said GE had many potential ways to cut debt beyond those laid out by predecessor John Flannery. “We have no higher priority right now than bringing those leverage levels down,’’ he said.
• “While it’s not a liquidity pressure in the short term, we know we need to tend to that and over time we’re fully committed to exploring every option we can to manage that liability and de-risk it for the GE shareholder.’’
• The power unit, which has been buffeted by weak demand and falling market share, has yet to hit bottom, Culp said. He said he lacked “conviction” to make predictions for the division’s results in the fourth quarter and next year. GE took a $22 billion charge for goodwill impairment in the third quarter.
Investors were not convinced. The stock fell more than 10 percent, and was trading at $7.98, down 6.9 percent, at 3:07 p.m.
Plan for Mass. Pike towers moves forward: The Globe’s Tim Logan has this update: “Developers have filed detailed plans for a pair of towers — 575,000 square feet of space in all — along Mass. Ave. above the Massachusetts Turnpike. The complex would include a 237-foot-tall office tower along Boylston Street and a 154-foot-high residential and hotel building along Newbury Street. Earlier estimates pegged the cost of the project at about $350 million. Samuels Associates’ filing with the Boston Planning Development Agency will kick off community and city review of the project, the third of three so-called “air rights” developments proposed above the Turnpike near the busy corner of Mass. Ave. and Boylston Street.” (Boston Globe)
Stocks tumble: The market’s woes continued into the new week, with US stocks falling, dragged down by a decline in Apple shares, a strong dollar, and worries about global trade. The Dow lost more than 220 points, or 1.6 percent, the S&P 500 was down 1.5 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq skidded 2.5 percent. (CNBC)
Here’s more from the Talking Points AM newsletter :
Game on: It was six months ago that the US Supreme Court gave states the freedom to legalize sports gambling, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey were among those that quickly jumped in to take on Las Vegas. Now it's Rhode Island's turn, with the Twin River casino in Lincoln getting into the game by the end of Thanksgiving week. The Globe's Andy Rosen says the Lincoln casino is starting cautiously, with limited options for betting on games and no remote gambling. (Boston Globe)
Rocky start: UMass Boston officials are promising to tackle safety problems at its first dorm, according to the Globe's Laura Krantz. The dorm, opened in September, has suffered from security lapses, balky elevators, complaints about under-cooked food, and unpredictable plumbing. (Boston Globe)
Fed up: Some Massachusetts psychologists remain frustrated with delays in getting state licensing. The Board of Registration for Psychologists said it was shorthanded in the summer but now has a staff member working full-time on applications, we learn from Globe's Felice Freyer. Still, practitioners say the process is moving too slowly. Why it matters: Delays are more than an inconvenience, Freyer says, leaving licenses in limbo, holding up income, and potentially threatening public safety if misconduct investigations proceed too slowly. (Boston Globe)
Beer brawl: Pabst says its future is on the line. No, not because its beer is bland. Instead, the brewer of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Old Milwaukee claims that MillersCoors is trying to put it out of business by killing a deal to produce, package, and ship most Pabst's products. According to the AP: "Pabst’s attorneys have said in court documents and hearings that MillerCoors LLC is lying about its brewing capacity to break away from Pabst and capture its share of the cheap beer market by disrupting Pabst’s ability to compete ... In court filings, MillersCoors said Pabst’s proposals to keep the Eden facility open 'were commercially unreasonable’ and that Pabst sought ‘a windfall through litigation’ instead of offering to pay enough to keep a facility open." The trial starts today. (AP)
Trump support led to firing of Facebook executive: Palmer Luckey, cofounder of the Oculus virtual reality division, has told people the reason was the furor sparked by his political beliefs, an assertion the company denies. (Wall Street Journal)
Softbank plans massive IPO for telecom unit: The Japanese stock sale could be world's largest initial public offering since Alibaba. (CNBC)
Oil rises as Saudis signal production cut: The kingdom said OPEC believes weakening demand warrants an output cut of 1 million barrels per day. (Bloomberg)
Borrowers face uncertainty as DeVos stalls loan forgiveness: The US Department of Education's staff under chief Betsy DeVos has fought in court and pushed rule changes to reduce financial relief granted to students. (NYT)
Dollar hits 17-month high as overseas stocks mostly dip: OPEC and May's Brexit woes drive markets. (Reuters)