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Talking Points

Five things you may have missed in business on Sunday


Ad executive put on leave after ‘shocking’ comments on diversity

One of the biggest advertising companies has placed a top executive on leave over comments he made about gender diversity. In an interview with Business Insider, Kevin Roberts, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and head coach at its parent, Publicis Groupe, said the debate on Madison Avenue “is all over” and that he did not spend “any time” on gender issues at his agencies. He said the problem was “way worse” in other industries and suggested women are happier in nonmanagement roles. In a memo, Maurice Lévy, chief executive of Publicis, wrote that Roberts’s comments were “extremely disappointing, shocking, uninformed, and counter to the spirit of Publicis Groupe.” Women make up nearly 50 percent of the advertising industry but only 11 percent of creative directors, according to a survey by the 3% Conference; 25 percent of women in advertising said they had experienced gender discrimination. Roberts said women’s ambition in agencies “is not a vertical ambition; it’s this intrinsic, circular ambition to be happy,” adding “I can’t talk about sexual discrimination because we’ve never had that problem, thank goodness.” — NEW YORK TIMES


Chinese group to buy Caesars’ games unit for $4.4 billion

Chinese investors led by Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co. have agreed to buy Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s online casino-style games unit, Playtika Ltd., for $4.4 billion, a bet on the rising popularity of mobile play. The consortium includes Yunfeng Capital, the private equity company founded by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. chairman Jack Ma, the buyers said Sunday. Playtika will remain independently run from its headquarters in Israel. Playtika isn’t traditional gambling, since its virtual currency can’t be exchanged for real money. Organized gambling is illegal in China except for licensed casinos in Macau. “Online gaming, eventually, should be massive after the various regulatory hurdles are worked out, even if it takes a significant number of years,” said Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen. For Caesars, it’s an exit from a business it bought in 2011. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Flour recalled after E. coli outbreaks

General Mills flour contaminated with E. coli bacteria found in animal feces has sickened 46 people in 21 states and prompted about 45 million pounds of flour to be recalled. The Food and Drug Administration is cautioning raw cookie dough and cake batter aficionados not to indulge. Testing determined that raw dough eaten or handled by people who became ill was made using flour produced between November and February in Kansas City, Mo. Officials found two strains of E. coli that cause diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Most people get better within a week, but some become seriously ill. Thirteen have been hospitalized and one has kidney failure, the Centers for Disease Control said. Minnesota, where General Mills is based, has had the most illnesses with five. Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan each reported four. The recall includes unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flour from General Mills, Gold Medal, Wondra, and Signature Kitchens. A few cake mixes, a biscuit mix, and a pancake mix also were recalled. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



New limits on lobster catch may come soon

Southern New England lobster fishermen might have to start throwing back smaller lobsters to help stem population losses. New restrictions are on tap for the region. Scientists say lobsters off southern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have declined as the ocean warms. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is considering ways to help preserve the species. Its lobster board might take action Thursday. New England lobster fishing was worth more than a half-billion dollars last year. Lobsters have remained plentiful for consumers, and prices have been relatively stable, because of abundant supply from northern New England and Canada. But the catch south of Cape Cod has plummeted to about 3.3 million pounds in 2013. It peaked at about 22 million in 1997. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Ski area aims to reduce energy use 30 percent

New Hampshire’s Cannon Mountain is undertaking several initiatives expected to reduce energy consumption at the Franconia ski area by 30 percent. The measures include replacement of Cannon’s main-trunk power line and upgrading the transformer; construction of a mid-mountain snow-making booster pump house; installation of 388 snow-making tower guns; and lighting and weatherization upgrades. The state-owned and -operated ski area says the pump house will move 50 percent more water to reach snow-making trails on the upper mountain, increasing snow-making capabilities. The snow-making tower guns will replace older, less efficient equipment. The state signed a $5.1 million contract with the energy services company Ameresco for the project. — ASSOCIATED PRESS