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TALKING POINTS

Stories you may have missed from the world of business

LABOR

Stop & Shop will extend 10 percent pay hike through May

Stop & Shop said Sunday that it will extend a pay hike for unionized workers through May, in what it said is a gesture of appreciation for the employees who have been continuing to report to work during the coronavirus crisis. The supermarket chain announced the pay increase in a joint statement with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents many of its employees. Grocery workers have been sickened and some have died in Massachusetts and around the country as stores have stayed open amid the stay-at-home orders that have allowed many people to avoid contact with the public. Stop & Shop also joined other grocery industry players — including the owner of Shaw’s and Star Market — in calling for supermarket employees to be designated as extended first responders or emergency personnel, which would give them priority for coronavirus testing and access to protective equipment. Massachusetts is one of several states where workers now have access to emergency child care. — ANDY ROSEN

AVIATION

Richard Branson reportedly seeking a buyer for Virgin Atlantic

Richard Branson is seeking a buyer for Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. as he struggles to secure a 500 million pound ($618 million) government bailout, the Telegraph reported. Branson has set an end-of-May deadline to save the UK airline from collapse and is focused on securing new private investment from more than 100 financial institutions, the newspaper quoted people as saying. “Houlihan Lokey has been appointed to assist the process, focusing on private-sector funding,” a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman said. “Discussions with a number of stakeholders continue and are constructive, meanwhile the airline remains in a stable position.” Virgin’s application for government aid has effectively been shelved, though negotiations could be revived, the newspaper reported. Delta Air Lines Inc., which owns a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic and is consumed with its own pandemic-related problems, has already bumped up against UK limits on foreign airline ownership, the US company’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said last week. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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OIL

Drilling company Diamond Offshore says it’s bankrupt

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., the rig contractor controlled by Loews Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection amid the crash in crude prices that’s wrecking demand for oil exploration at sea. The company listed $5.8 billion of assets and $2.6 billion of debt in a Chapter 11 petition filed in Houston, citing year-end 2019 data. It has about $434.9 million of cash on hand. Diamond owns rigs that can drill in water more than two miles deep. But offshore oil is among the most expensive to produce, putting the company at a disadvantage when prices plunged to less than $30 a barrel. While newer deepwater projects are less expensive, they still take longer to develop than shale wells. What’s more, a global glut of offshore vessels has squeezed profit margins. Conditions worsened “precipitously in recent months,” the firm said, citing a price war between OPEC and Russia and the pandemic. Diamond Offshore adds to the more than 200 oilpatch bankruptcies dating from 2015, according to a tally by the Haynes & Boone law firm. About 2,500 jobs could be at stake at Diamond. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ENERGY

Average US gas price drops 9 cents to $1.93

The average price of regular-grade gasoline fell 9 cents over the past two weeks, to $1.93 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that prices at the pump have dropped 61 cents over the past nine weeks and 80 cents since mid-October. Lundberg said prices are expected to continue their slide as demand declines amid stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic. The highest average price in the nation for regular-grade gas was $3.13 per gallon in Honolulu. The lowest was $1.30 in Tulsa, Okla. The average price of diesel was $2.62, down 7 cents. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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ENERGY

Referendum on hydropower corridor appealed to Maine’s high court

Supporters of a proposed $1 billion hydropower transmission corridor in Western Maine are appealing to the state Supreme Judicial Court over the validity of petitions to put the project to a statewide vote in November. The secretary of state rejected some 16,332 signatures but found that there were enough valid signatures to surpass the threshold of about 63,000, by 3,050. The appeal contends the secretary of state misinterpreted state law in allowing some signatures that should have been invalidated. The case was fast-tracked, and attorneys are expected to hold arguments Tuesday via teleconference. CMP’s New England Clean Energy Connect calls for construction of a 145-mile transmission line to bring 1,200 megawatts of electricity from Hydro-Quebec to the New England power grid. Most of the transmission line would follow established utility corridors, but a new swath would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness CMP owns. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUTOMOTIVE

Tesla will recall some Calif. workers this week

Tesla Inc. is calling some workers back to its lone US vehicle-assembly plant this week, before San Francisco Bay Area stay-home orders are scheduled to expire. Supervisors told some staff in the paint and stamping operations of the factory in Fremont, Calif., to report April 29. In messages seen by Bloomberg News, plant leaders asked workers to reply and say whether they plan to show up. Tesla representatives did not immediately respond to a weekend request for comment. Tesla had previously communicated to workers that it expected to resume normal production at US facilities May 4, the day after Bay Area health measures are slated to end. The electric-car maker clashed with Fremont officials last month over whether its factory was an essential business exempt from shutdown orders. The Fremont plant builds every vehicle in Tesla’s lineup and last produced cars on March 23. Credit Suisse estimates the factory’s shutdown has been driving about $300 million of cash burn per week. Carmakers including Volkswagen, Toyota, and Hyundai have said they intend to restart operations early next month, but the United Auto Workers union has said that’s too soon and too risky. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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