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Stories you may have missed from the world of business


WPI gets $1.9m grant to help better detect prostate cancer

Worcester Polytechnic Institute has received a five-year, nearly $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a robotic system to detect and monitor prostate cancer. Grant recipient Haichong Zhang, a biomedical engineer at the school, said his surgical imaging robot will be safer and more accurate than current tests, including ultrasounds and biopsies. Zhang told The Telegram & Gazette he wants to create a minimally invasive, easily accessible, and cost-effective way to better detect prostate cancer, which will affect one-fifth of all men at some point in their lives. Zhang is working on the project with Gregory Fischer, a professor of robotics and mechanical engineering at WPI. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



BP has a stake in secretive data-mining firm, Sunday Times says

BP, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, is a shareholder in the secretive US data-mining firm Palantir Technologies Inc., the Sunday Times reported. London-based BP first bought a stake in 2014, according to the report, which didn’t cite sources. The two companies have reportedly worked together for several years. Closely held Palantir, founded and chaired by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, is known for its links to US intelligence agencies. Such an investment is rare for BP, the Sunday Times said, yet may reflect its embrace of digitization under Bernard Looney, who becomes CEO in early 2020. He expanded the relationship with Palantir while he was head of BP’s upstream operations, the Financial Times reported earlier this month. BP and Palantir did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Palantir is in talks to raise significant funding from private investors, which could delay previous plans for an initial public offering of stock, Bloomberg reported last month. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


EU proposes Brexit Extension to Jan. 31 ahead of envoy talks

The European Union is proposing to extend the Brexit deadline by three months to Jan. 31, according to a draft declaration seen by Bloomberg that will be discussed by envoys in Brussels on Monday. Under the EU proposal, the United Kingdom would be able to leave the bloc before the new deadline if both sides ratify a divorce deal. The draft excludes any potential to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement and requires the UK to meet its EU obligations in full during the extension. The Monday meeting will take place just hours before British politicians vote on Boris Johnson’s bid for an early general election on Dec. 12. The UK prime minister looks likely to fall short of the necessary two-thirds majority in the House of Commons, with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterating on Sunday that he won’t back the plan unless the threat of a no-deal Brexit is fully off the table. Johnson has made ratification of his Brexit deal contingent on MPs backing an early election. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Gary Cohn adds cybersecurity gig in post-Trump return to work

Gary Cohn is slow-walking his way back to corporate life since leaving the Trump administration almost two years ago. The former Goldman Sachs Group president has begun advising a firm that plans to launch a secure mobile phone as global cybersecurity threats mount. He earlier joined the boards of a mobile gaming company and a blockchain startup. Cohn is advising Hoyos Integrity. Recently, Cohn’s old Wall Street employer has been ensnared in a case focused on a global insider trading ring busted by US prosecutors. That has renewed concern about the ability of investment banks and advisers to safeguard corporate secrets. “It was always a nightmare when I was there, and it continues to be a nightmare for all these banks,” Cohn said. Technology being developed by Hoyos might help add a layer of security that “will solve some problems but not all problems” when it comes to thwarting insider trading. Cohn is pumping some of his own money into the company but declined to disclose the size of his investment. Hector Hoyos said he’s developing a biometric-based identity-authentication device that aims to be the first “unhackable” mobile technology. He sees the potential of partnering with a large payments firm or a major financial institution. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Average US price of gas drops 4 cents per gallon

The average US price of regular-grade gasoline has dropped 4 cents per gallon over the past two weeks, to $2.68. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that there may be further drops soon, as refinery maintenance season starts to slow and demand for gasoline declines at this time of year. The price at the pump is 24 cents lower than it was a year ago. The highest average price in the nation is $4.71 a gallon, in San Francisco; the lowest, $2.12 in Baton Rouge, La.


Louis Vuitton maker is looking to buy Tiffany

LVMH offered about $14.5 billion in cash for US jeweler Tiffany & Co. in what would be the biggest purchase by the French owner of Louis Vuitton, said people familiar with the matter. LVMH’s all-cash bid values Tiffany at about $120 a share, one of the people said — almost 22 percent more than the closing price of $98.55 on Friday. Tiffany is evaluating the bid, and there’s no guarantee of an agreement, the people said. Tiffany shares are worth $12 billion after advancing about 22 percent this year. LVMH has risen 49 percent, giving it a market capitalization of $215 billion. An acquisition would give LVMH an iconic 182-year-old US brand known for its robin’s egg blue boxes and its role as a favorite haunt of Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” The French company already owns labels like Givenchy, Sephora, Hublot, Bulgari, and Dom Perignon Champagne. A takeover of New York-based Tiffany would be bigger than the $7 billion LVMH paid for the rest of Christian Dior in 2017. LVMH and Tiffany declined to comment. — BLOOMBERG NEWS