Talking Points

TALKING POINTS

Comcast business customers experience phone service outage

TELEPHONE

Comcast business customers experience service outage

A major outage on Comcast Corp.’s network Tuesday shut down telephone service to businesses throughout Greater Boston and in many parts of the United States. It’s unclear exactly when the problem began, or its full extent. But service was still offline as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to customer complaints posted on Twitter. A host of Boston-area companies took to social networks to notify customers of the problem, and urge them to stay in touch via e-mail. Similar complaints were posted by businesses elsewhere in the United States, including a Harley-Davidson dealership in Atlanta, a chiropractor in Annapolis, Md., a wine shop in Minnesota, and a video production company in Miami. “Early today an issue in our network prevented some of our small business customers from making and receiving phone calls,” said Comcast in an e-mailed statement. “We’re working as quickly as possible to understand the root cause and get it resolved.” According to Comcast’s website, the company’s business telephone network serves about one million businesses in 39 states. — HIAWATHA BRAY

WAGES

Leominster factory and staffing firm to pay $1.4m for overtime violations

A Leominster plastics manufacturer and a staffing company must pay $1.4 million in wages and damages to 566 employees who were denied overtime, the US Labor Department said Tuesday. United Plastics and ASI Staffing Group Corp., the company that supplied contract labor, were found to have denied overtime pay at two work sites, in Leominster and Sardis, Miss. An investigation by the department’s wage and hour division found that ASI Group avoided paying employees who worked over 40 hours a week by logging overtime hours under separate company names, and some or all of the overtime hours were paid at straight-time rates. The wage violations occurred between November 2011 and October 2014, the department found. The companies also failed to keep legally required records of their employees’ hours and pay rates, according to the department. The judgment was filed in US District Court in Boston. — HAE YOUNG YOO

STARTUPS

Two companies launched by Flagship Ventures to merge

Two startups launched by Cambridge venture capital firm Flagship Ventures are merging into a single company that is seeking to harness the interaction of the immune system with microbial genes to develop treatments for cancer, autoimmune, and inflammatory diseases. Evelo Biosciences and Epiva Biosciences, both founded by Flagship’s VentureLabs foundry in 2014, will combine into one company, called Evelo, with 42 employees and about $40 million in funding, Flagship said Tuesday. The new Evelo will be led by chief executive Simba Gill, and Flagship founder and chief executive Noubar Afeyan will be its board chairman. — ROBERT WEISMAN

JOBS

More evidence that May was a bad month for employment

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US employers advertised fewer jobs and hired fewer people in May — a bad month for the US labor market before a surge in hiring in June. The Labor Department said Tuesday that job openings slid to 5.5 million in May, the fewest since December and down nearly 6 percent from a record 5.8 million in April. Employers hired 5 million people in May, down slightly from April. The number of people quitting their jobs, which can reflect workers’ confidence in their job prospects, also ticked down in May. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

HEDGE FUNDS

84% of clients withdrew money
in the first half
of 2016

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Running an underperforming hedge fund? Your clients are noticing. Eighty-four percent of investors in hedge funds pulled money in the first half of the year, and 61 percent said they will probably make withdrawals later this year, according to a Credit Suisse Group AG study released Tuesday. The main driver among those who redeemed: their fund underperformed. The survey, which polled more than 200 allocators with almost $700 billion invested in hedge funds, found that most were redirecting their money to other managers, rather than exiting the asset class altogether. Only 9 percent said they weren’t planning to reinvest the money they pulled in other hedge funds. — BLOOMBERG

COFFEE

Starbucks raises prices

Starbucks has increased prices slightly on brewed coffee, espresso, and tea latte beverages at company-run stores in the United States. The announcement comes a day after Starbucks announced it would boost the base pay of all employees and store managers at the same stores by 5 percent or more. The Seattle-based coffee chain says prices on select sizes of brewed coffee in US company-operated stores jumped 10 to 20 cents Tuesday, while prices on espresso and tea latte beverages will rise 10 to 30 cents. The amount depends on the market in which individual stores are based. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

VIDEO GAMES

Warner Brothers settles charges
on paying
YouTube stars

The Federal Trade Commission says Warner Bros. has agreed to settle charges that it deceived consumers by not properly disclosing that it paid those with big followings on YouTube and social media to promote a video game. The FTC says Warner Bros. paid online influencers thousands of dollars to post positive videos and reviews of the game ‘‘Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor’’ in late 2014. The government says Warner Bros. hired the influencers through an advertising agency and instructed them to publish the disclosure of its sponsorship on YouTube in a spot where consumers couldn’t easily view it.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENTERTAINMENT

Owner of AMC theaters to buy European chain

The owner of the AMC Theatre chain is buying European movie theater operator Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group from private equity firm Terra Firma in a deal that would make it the largest movie theater operator in the world. AMC will pay 500 million pounds ($663 million) in cash and stock. It will also assume 407 million pounds ($539.4 million) in debt. AMC CEO Adam Aron said in a call with investors on Tuesday that the deal was spurred by a British pound at a three decade low versus the dollar following Britain’s vote to leave the EU. London-based Odeon & UCI has 242 theaters in Europe. The deal will give AMC a total of 627 theaters in eight countries. Odeon & UCI will become an AMC subsidiary and continue operating under its current brand names. AMC, which was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in 2012, is still in the process of trying to buy American movie theater operator Carmike Cinemas Inc. of Columbus, Ga. That transaction, which was announced in March, is valued at $1.1 billion including debt. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TECHNOLOGY

Microsoft to offer cloud-based subscripton service

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Microsoft will offer the high-end version of its Windows 10 software to small businesses via a cloud-based subscription for the first time, expanding the number of products available to a wider range of customers. The company will also rent Surface tablets for a monthly fee. Starting this fall, the Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, which offers more security features, will be available to any size company for $7 a month per user through partners in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program. Previously it was available mainly to larger companies and only with an upfront payment and an agreement for several years.
— BLOOMBERG