What you might have missed from the week in business
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GE finds temporary home in Hub
General Electric has not yet revealed where it will locate its new headquarters in Boston, but in the short term the company is headed for Farnsworth Street in Fort Point. Art Papas, chief executive at software firm Bullhorn Inc., said the industrial conglomerate will lease his company's entire 45,000-square-foot headquarters space at 33-41 Farnsworth St. Bullhorn plans to move to a 77,000-square-foot space at 100 Summer St. to accommodate its growth later this spring. GE spokesman Seth Martin declined to comment about the Farnsworth lease. The timing of when the company will move in is unclear, although it probably won't take long. Papas said GE plans to use Bullhorn's desks, cubicles, and chairs.
AG warns drugmaker on prices
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, opening a new front in the push to boost access to life-saving drugs, has warned the country's biggest biotech company that it faces possible legal action unless it lowers the price of two popular hepatitis C medicines. In a letter to Gilead Sciences Inc., made public Wednesday, the attorney general wrote that the high price of the company's Sovaldi drug, $84,000 for a full 12-week course of treatment, and its Harvoni regimen, at $94,500, "may constitute an unfair trade practice in violation of Massachusetts law" because they are too expensive for many patients. Gilead spokeswoman Amy Flood said the company has received Healey's letter and requested a meeting.
Global woes weigh on Mass.
The state economy downshifted significantly at the end of last year, felled by broader weaknesses in the US and global economy, the University of Massachusetts reported. After expanding by as much as 5.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015, the Massachusetts economy expanded by only 1.3 percent during the last three months of the year. Even the beginning of 2015, marked by the record snowfall and harsh winter, proved to be a better quarter than the end of the year, UMass said. It likely means that growth this year will slow too. The US economy, meanwhile, posted a tepid 0.7 percent growth rate for the fourth quarter, hurt by weaker consumer spending and other factors.
Good year for home sales in Mass.
Sales of single-family homes in Massachusetts surged 16.6 percent in December, while the median price climbed to $335,000, up 4.7 percent compared to a year prior, according to figures out Wednesday from the Warren Group. For the full year, sales jumped 10.5 percent while the median price ticked up 3 percent to $340,000. Condos notched similar gains. Statewide, home prices are now at their highest level since 2007, though still a bit below the $355,000 median price in 2005. At $316,810, median condo prices have never been higher.
Supreme Court gives EnerNOC a boost
The US Supreme Court issued a ruling that would greatly benefit energy conservation businesses, boosting EnerNOC Inc. of Boston. The company helps large industrial energy consumers curtail use in return for payments from power-grid operators and ultimately other customers. The Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allowed large users to be paid for conserving power, what's known as demand response. Electricity suppliers had challenged the ruling, arguing the commission exceeded its authority. The court decision paves the way for growth in the kind of energy conservation services offered by EnerNOC.
New business for Fidelity
Fidelity Investments is launching a new business outside its usual domain of managing money: selling health insurance plans to employers. The Boston investment giant said it is developing a so-called private exchange to offer small and mid-sized employers medical, dental, and vision benefits, as well as life insurance and other products. Fidelity will act as a broker, selling the plans of traditional insurance providers and competing against hundreds of other agents and brokers for that business. The company sees this as an extension of its already deep ties with corporate human resources offices.
Zafgen shorted by hedge fund
Shares of Zafgen Inc. dropped after Kerrisdale Capital, a hedge fund, disclosed it had taken a short position in the Boston biotech company. Kerrisdale contends in a research report that Zafgen is overvalued and that its experimental obesity-fighting drug stands little chance of winning US market approval. Sahm Adrangi, founder and chief investment officer of New York-based Kerrisdale, said the deaths of two patients who took the drug candidate in a clinical trial last year hurt Zafgen's chances for Food and Drug Administration approval. A spokeswoman for Zafgen declined to respond to Kerrisdale's assessment of Beloranib's prospects.
Whole Foods recalls pizzas
Whole Foods is recalling almost 75,000 pounds of frozen pepperoni pizzas shipped throughout New England due to a labeling error that fails to disclose they are made with pork. The pizzas are labeled as containing uncured beef pepperoni, when they contain uncured pork pepperoni, which some people cannot eat for dietary or cultural reasons. The pizzas were produced between Jan. 5, 2015, and Jan. 22, 2016, and shipped for sale to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. The grocery chain says there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the pizza.
Staples lays off hundreds
Staples Inc. is laying off hundreds of workers at its Framingham headquarters, a move that analysts said suggests the company is preparing for the likelihood its planned merger with Office Depot Inc. won't win regulatory approval. The job cuts were confirmed by a current employee and a former employee. Staples spokesman Mark Cautela would not comment on layoffs, pointing only to a press release issued Monday in which chief executive Ron Sargent said the company was "streamlining." Staples' efforts to merge with rival Office Depot have been thwarted by the Federal Trade Commission, which last month filed a lawsuit calling the deal anticompetitive.
Pay equity passes state Senate
The Massachusetts state Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill intended to shrink the gender wage gap. The bill prohibits employers from asking a job candidate's salary history and establishes a definition for "comparable work," to ensure that similar jobs have more equitable pay. Because women's wages are historically lower than men's, disclosing them could put women at a disadvantage, which is why the bill prohibits discussion of a candidate's salary history. The pay equity bill also allows employees to discuss salaries openly without fear of termination. The bill goes to the House.