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TALKING POINTS

Chased by Google, TripAdvisor trimming jobs

Reuters

TRAVEL

Chased by Google, TripAdvisor trimming jobs

TripAdvisor Inc. is cutting hundreds of jobs, according to people familiar with the situation, underscoring the company’s need to reduce costs as competition from Google intensifies. The online travel information provider is eliminating about 200 workers, the people said. The company had just over 3,800 staff at the end of September, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A TripAdvisor spokesman declined to comment, but pointed to a recent earnings conference call in which the company said it was “prudently reducing and re-allocating expenses in certain parts of our business to preserve strong profitability.” Alphabet Inc.’s Google has launched new travel search tools that compete with TripAdvisor, while adding its own reviews of hotels, restaurants, and other destinations. Google has also crammed the top of its mobile search results with more ads. This has forced many companies, including TripAdvisor, to buy more ads from the search giant to keep online traffic flowing. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

HEALTH CARE

Steward and union reach agreement on new contract

Steward Health Care and the union representing about 6,000 of its workers said Wednesday that they’ve agreed to a new five-year employment contract. The contract covers members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, an arm of the Service Employees International Union, at nine Steward hospital facilities. Union officials said the agreement gives employees a more predictable wage scale and “affordable” health insurance, while preserving contributions to their 401(k) retirement accounts. Steward officials said the contract also will help workers access training and education programs. Dallas-based Steward owns dozens of hospitals nationwide, including St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center and Carney Hospital in Boston. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY

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MEDIA

Head of Hallmark’s media business leaves a month after flap over same-sex couple ad

The head of Hallmark’s media business is leaving the company after 11 years, just a month after its flagship Hallmark Channel faced an outcry over a decision to pull an ad with a lesbian couple kissing. No reason was given for Bill Abbott’s departure, and no replacement was immediately named. In a statement, Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., said that with immense competition from TV networks and streaming services, it is important for the company to find “relevant new ways to grow our business.” Abbott was CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, a company controlled by Hallmark Cards. Crown Media’s flagship cable channel is The Hallmark Channel, known for family-friendly programming, particularly made-for-TV Christmas-themed movies. In December, the Hallmark Channel’s decision to pull an ad featuring the same-sex couple led to an outcry online. The company later reversed the decision. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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RETAIL

Express to close about 100 stores

Express, a staple in US malls, will close about 100 stores as part of a restructuring plan as the chain grapples with drastic changes in where people spend their shopping dollars. The retailer that caters to younger shoppers said earlier this month that it was laying off 10 percent of the staff at its Columbus, Ohio, headquarters and its New York City design studio. Express Inc. said Wednesday that it can cut its costs by $80 million annually, partially through the store closures, nine of which took place in 2019. It plans to close another 31 stores this year, and 35 more by the end of next year. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AVIATION

Boeing says 737 Max production to resume in spring

Boeing’s new CEO said Wednesday that production of the 737 Max will resume this spring, months before the company expects federal regulators to certify the grounded plane to fly again. David Calhoun also said he believes passengers will fly on the Max when federal regulators say it is safe and they see airline pilots getting on the plane. Calhoun dismissed the idea that Boeing’s best-selling jet might never fly again or that the company should change the plane’s name. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Jaguar Land Rover to cut 500 jobs in northern England

Jaguar Land Rover will eliminate 500 posts or about 10 percent of the workforce at its Halewood plant near Liverpool, northern England, as the luxury automaker seeks to cut costs amid mounting spending on electric cars. The reductions come as the factory, which makes the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the upgraded Range Rover Evoque SUVs, moves from a round-the-clock three shift pattern to two, JLR said in a statement Wednesday. The UK’s biggest carmaker said a year ago that it planned to slash 4,500 jobs worldwide as it struggled with a sales slowdown caused by uncertainty around Brexit, flagging demand for diesel vehicles, and a downturn in China. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

GOVERNMENT

New Jersey becomes the first state to mandate severance for mass layoffs

New Jersey has become the first state in the nation to guarantee severance pay for mass layoffs, according to the bill’s sponsors and the governor’s office. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed legislation that requires companies with 100 or more full-time employees to pay them a week’s pay for each year of service during a mass layoff, plant closing, or transfer resulting in 50 or more workers losing their jobs. The law also increases the minimum number of days notice from 60 to 90 for such events. The legislation was motivated by last year’s closing of Toys R Us, which cost 2,000 employees their jobs in New Jersey. Two of the private equity firms that owned the retail giant eventually established a severance fund. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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INSURANCE

Man must be reimbursed for care after accident

An insurance company must reimburse a Kansas man for the personal care his wife provided after he was injured in an automobile accident, the state Supreme Court ruled in rejecting that spouses are required to provide such support without compensation. The decision handed down Tuesday overturns a Court of Appeals panel ruling that GEICO General Insurance Co. did not have to pay insured customer Royce Williams because the wife’s obligation to help her husband “was incurred as a result of the marital relationship itself.” The state’s highest court disagreed and reinstated the $2,625 in benefits that the district court had initially awarded Williams. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

Family that owns Nutella in for a sweet payout

Life is looking sweet for the Ferrero family. The Italian dynasty behind Nutella is poised to get a 642 million euro ($714 million) dividend from their main holding company, regulatory filings show. The firm reported profit of 928.6 million euros for the fiscal year that ended in August, up more than a quarter from the previous 12 months. Payouts of this magnitude have helped make the Ferreros the world’s 25th richest family, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Profits at the the Ferrero family’s operating company have almost doubled since 2008. In 2018, Ferrero acquired Nestle’s US candy business for $2.8 billion and completed a $1.3 billion deal last year for Kellogg Co.’s cookies and fruit snack brands, including Keebler and Famous Amos. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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PHARMACEUTICALS

J&J’s profit up more than 30 percent

Higher prescription drug sales and lower legal costs drove Johnson & Johnson’s fourth-quarter profit 32 percent higher. The world’s biggest maker of health care products on Wednesday reported net income of $4.01 billion, or $1.50 per share. That’s up from $3.04 billion, or $1.12, a year earlier. But J&J is dealing with thousands of lawsuits over drug side effects, its role in the US opioid epidemic, and allegations its baby powder caused cancer in some users and its surgical mesh for sagging pelvic organs injured patients.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUTOMOTIVE

Mercedes maker had earnings fall by half last year

Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, saw operating earnings fall by half in 2019 as its flagship luxury brand suffered in a tougher global market, and due to more expenses tied to regulatory and legal issues with diesel cars. The Stuttgart-based company said Wednesday that operating earnings fell to 5.6 billion euros ($6.2 billion) for all of 2019 from 11.1 billion euros in 2018. The company said it would also be hit with 1.1 billion euros to 1.5 billion euros in additional charges for regulatory and legal issues related to its diesel models. — ASSOCIATED PRESS