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ALCOHOL

Drizly raises $50 million in funding round

Local alcohol delivery platform Drizly announced on Thursday that it has raised $50 million in a series C funding round led by Avenir, a New York-based investment firm. The company, which currently operates in 235 markets across North America, has seen its sales surge 350 percent over the past year, and said it has doubled its retail partnerships since January 1 to create a network of 3,300 liquor stores. The booze business has been a lucrative one during the pandemic, as off-premise alcohol sales overall saw a 21 percent spike in sales during the first few weeks of the pandemic, according to Nielsen. The research firm also reported that e-commerce booze sales were particularly strong during the shelter-in-place period, up 234 percent overall, and are now the fastest-growing segment of consumer packaged goods. Drizly, which is the largest alcohol e-commerce delivery platform in North America, says the funding will help expand its reach further, and also help support the growth of Lantern, its marijuana delivery service which launched in Massachusetts and Michigan in March. The company said it expects 20 percent of off-premise alcohol purchases take place online within the next five years, as compared to less than 2 percent in early 2020. — JANELLE NANOS

BUSINESS SERVICES

Advisory firm continues growth in Massachusetts

Connecticut-based business advisory firm Blum, Shapiro & Co., aka blumshapiro, is continuing its Massachusetts expansion with the acquisition of The Brighton Co. Blum completed the deal on Aug. 15 and unveiled it on Thursday. The merger brings 19 employees into the company, which now employs 530 people. Blum plans to keep the Burlington office of Brighton Co. as its sixth office in Massachusetts. Brighton Co. specializes in temporary chief financial officer, controller, and accountant outsourcing services. — JON CHESTO

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FINANCE

Former Bank of America manager charged with embezzling $1.5 million

A former Bank of America manager has been charged with embezzling $1.5 million from a client company and using some of the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including a luxury vehicle, prosecutors said Thursday. Waqas Ali, 31, of Abington, was charged with wire fraud and money laundering. Ali was the bank’s client relationship manager for the victim company, according to federal prosecutors in Boston. Ali allegedly opened a checking account in the name of the company without its knowledge or authorization, and between September 2016 and July 2017, fraudulently transferred more than $1.5 million from the victim company’s accounts to a fraudulent account, prosecutors said. He then used more than $600,000 of the money to pay for luxury items, including a $63,000 Porsche SUV and retail items at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Christian Louboutin, and Tag Heuer. He also used some money to pay off personal credit cards, authorities said. The victim company was not disclosed. Bank of America fired him in September 2018. An e-mail seeking comment was left with his federal public defender. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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SHIPYARDS

Workers at Bath Iron Works to vote on new contract beginning Friday

Striking workers at Bath Iron Works have eliminated pickets outside the shipyard as a show of good faith before the start of voting on a three-year contract proposal. The 4,300 production workers represented by Machinists Local S6 will begin voting on Friday online or by telephone, instead of in person, because of the pandemic. The tally will be announced Sunday. The strike began on June 22 after production workers overwhelmingly rejected the company’s final offer because of provisions regarding subcontracting, work rules, and seniority. A federal mediator brought both sides together for a tentative agreement that addresses many of the concerns. Included are wage increases of 3 percent per year that were in the original proposal. Bath Iron Works builds destroyers for the Navy. It’s one of Maine’s biggest employers with 6,800 workers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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FOOD

First it was fake meat. Now it’s fake fish.

Nestle is adding faux tuna to its growing plant-protein portfolio as the world’s largest food company expands beyond vegan burgers. The tuna alternative, based on pea protein and wheat gluten, will first be sold in Nestle’s home market of Switzerland, under its Garden Gourmet brand, at the end of August. While the plant-based seafood industry lags the faux meat and dairy markets — perhaps because fish itself is already considered a healthy alternative to red meat — Nestle is joining an increasing number of competitors trying to win the category. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

SHORT-TERM RENTALS

Airbnb bans house parties

Airbnb is banning house parties worldwide as it tries to clean up its reputation and comply with coronavirus-related limits on gatherings. The San Francisco home sharing company will limit occupancy in its rental homes to 16 people. It may offer exceptions for boutique hotels or other event venues. Airbnb said it may pursue legal action against guests and hosts who violate the ban. Last week, for the first time, Airbnb took legal action against a guest who held an unauthorized party in Sacramento County, Calif. Airbnb has always prohibited unauthorized parties, and the company said nearly 75 percent of its listings explicitly ban parties. But after a deadly shooting at a California Airbnb rental last Halloween, the company has taken multiple steps to crack down on parties. Five people were killed in the shooting, which happened during an unauthorized party. In July, Airbnb banned US and Canadian guests under age 25 with fewer than three positive reviews from booking entire homes close to where they live. It expanded that policy to the United Kingdom, Spain, and France last week. Airbnb said it also plans to expand a hotline for neighbors to report unauthorized parties.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

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INTERNATIONAL

Bayer to pay $1.6 billion to settle suits over contraceptive device

Bayer agreed to pay $1.6 billion to resolve most of the US litigation over its now-withdrawn Essure contraceptive device, which some women said failed to prevent pregnancies and caused excessive bleeding and pelvic pain. The deal will resolve about 90 percent of the 39,000 lawsuits consolidated in courts in California and Pennsylvania, Bayer said Thursday in a statement. The proposed payout is considerably more than the $1.1 billion Bayer paid in 2013 to acquire Conceptus Inc., the company that developed the device. Bayer stopped selling Essure in 2018. The German company announced a $12.1 billion plan in June to settle lawsuits over Roundup weedkiller, a product it inherited with the $63 billion takeover of Monsanto Co. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

COSMETICS

Estee Lauder to cut as many as 2,000 jobs, close stores

Estee Lauder Cos. is cutting jobs and closing stores as part of a multiyear restructuring plan after the coronavirus pandemic threw the cosmetics industry into disarray. The beauty giant plans to reduce its workforce by 1,500 to 2,000 jobs worldwide, or about 3 percent of total staff, and boost its digital operations after pandemic lockdowns hit demand for makeup. Most of the cuts will be store employees and support workers, the company said Thursday. As part of the two-year initiative, management will close 10 percent to 15 percent of Estee Lauder’s free-standing stores and eliminate some department-store beauty counters as consumers shift to more online purchases. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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