Boston design firm Continuum sold


Boston design firm Continuum sold

A Pennsylvania-based engineering and software firm has acquired Boston design firm Continuum from founder Gianfranco Zaccai. EPAM Systems announced the deal Thursday, but didn’t disclose the financial terms. No changes to the size of Continuum’s 150-person workforce are expected. The business will now be known as EPAM Continuum. — JON CHESTO


Ford aiming to freshen its lineup

Ford Motor Co. plans to topple Toyota Motor Corp. to become the US hybrid king and will take a shot at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Jeep brand with a series of new sport utility vehicles within the next few years. The automaker will build gas-electric versions of all of its most popular vehicles by 2021, including the F-150 pickup, Escape crossover, and Mustang muscle car. Five new SUVs will hit showrooms within the next two years, including a small, rugged off-roader aimed at the popular Jeep Wrangler. “By 2021, we expect to surpass Toyota to be No. 1” in hybrids, Jim Farley, Ford’s president of global markets and a former Toyota executive, told reporters Thursday at the automaker’s cavernous design dome. “To do that, you have to offer it on every one of your mainstream products.” Ford has been punished lately by both consumers and investors for fielding too many stale SUVs and being absent from several fast-growing segments. It’s pledging to have the freshest lineup in the United States by 2020 by dropping the average age of its models to 3.3 years, from 5.7 years now. Chief executive Jim Hackett, brought in last May to turn the company around, characterized the need to overhaul Ford’s lineup and prepare for the electrified and autonomous age as an existential issue. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Feds said to be wary of Bayer AG’s Monsanto takeover plan

Bayer AG’s plan to win antitrust approval for its takeover of Monsanto Co. hasn’t satisfied US officials who are worried the merger could hurt competition, according to two people familiar with the matter. The Justice Department’s antitrust division doesn’t think Bayer’s proposal to sell businesses goes far enough, said the people. The government wants the German chemicals company to divest more assets to resolve its concerns, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the investigation is confidential. Negotiations between the two sides are continuing and a final decision by the government is probably months away, the person said. Talks have been constructive as Bayer has taken steps to address the government’s concerns, the person added. Representatives for Bayer, Monsanto, and the Justice Department declined to comment. Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of St. Louis-based Monsanto is part of a wave of consolidation that has swept seed and crop-chemical firms. The companies are seeking approval from US and European officials after two previous deals — the combination of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. and China National Chemical Corp.’s takeover of Syngenta AG — won antitrust clearance. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



HarborOne pays $126m for R.I.’s Coastway Bancorp

HarborOne Bancorp, in a major move to expand into Rhode Island, unveiled a $126 million deal to acquire Coastway Bancorp, a Warwick-based bank with nine branches and three mortgage offices. When the deal closes in the second half of the year, Brockton-based HarborOne said, it will become the 12th largest publicly traded community bank in New England based on assets. — JON CHESTO



Wynns can sell their shares of casino company

Steve and Elaine Wynn got divorced years ago, but their fight over a $4 billion stock fortune ended only this week. Wynn Resorts said in a filing Thursday that the pair, who together control 21 percent of the company, told a Las Vegas court they no longer consider a 2010 agreement between them valid. That frees both to sell their shares in one of the world’s glitziest casino chains after a bitter six-year battle for control of the stock. It was an ugly fight, with Elaine Wynn accusing her ex of reckless spending and worse: covering up a sexual assault allegation brought by an employee through a secret, multimillion-dollar payment. That revelation ultimately led to Steve Wynn’s downfall, with a series of news accounts alleging sexual misconduct. The allegations have triggered probes into the billionaire’s conduct by regulators in Nevada, Massachusetts, and Macau. Steve Wynn has denied assaulting anyone. In court pleadings, Elaine Wynn also questioned her ex-husband’s judgment regarding the promotion and retention of senior officials at the company. Managers were promoted based on loyalty, more than integrity and ability, she said. Wynn claimed her ex-husband misused company resources to support his ‘‘legendary lifestyle.’’ There was no effective protocol, or at least none approved by the board, to oversee his entertainment and travel expenditures, she said. Thursday’s filing said the onetime King of Las Vegas may seek to sell all or a portion of his shares. A spokeswoman for Elaine Wynn declined to comment on her plans. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Walmart whistle-blower claims cheating in race with Amazon

In its race to catch Amazon.com Inc. in online retailing, Walmart Inc. issued misleading e-commerce results and fired an executive who complained the company was breaking the law, according to a whistle-blower lawsuit. Tri Huynh, a former director of business development at Walmart, claims he was terminated “under false pretenses” after repeatedly raising concerns about the company’s “overly aggressive push to show meteoric growth in its e-commerce business by any means possible — even, illegitimate ones.” Under chief executive Doug McMillon, Walmart has invested billions to catch up with Amazon in e-commerce over the past few years, and last year enjoyed quarterly online sales growth rates surpassing 50 percent, well above peers that include Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Huynh claims Walmart mislabeled products so that some third-party vendors received lower commissions, failed to process customer returns, and allowed offensive items onto the site. Huynh’s dismissal in January 2017 — just a day after a retail-industry publication singled him out as one of the sector’s rising stars — was in retaliation for warning senior executives about the misdeeds, he said in the lawsuit, filed Thursday by employment litigation attorney David M. deRubertis in San Francisco federal court. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Unilever says Rotterdam will be its sole headquarters

Unilever said Thursday that it would make Rotterdam, the Netherlands, its sole headquarters, dealing a symbolic blow to Britain as it negotiates its exit from the European Union. For nearly 90 years, the consumer products giant — whose brands include Dove soap, Lipton tea, Surf detergent and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream — has straddled the North Sea, maintaining headquarters in London and in the Netherlands. Investors have pushed Unilever for years, however, to eliminate the dual structure, arguing that doing so would make the company more agile and better able to pursue mergers. Unilever said last year that it would review its legal structure after Kraft Heinz briefly flirted with a $143 billion takeover of the company. That review has been complicated, though, by Britain’s planned withdrawal from the European Union, known as Brexit, and fears that the company’s decision could be politicized. Critics of Brexit have argued that leaving the EU could stifle Britain’s economy, particularly if companies who have used London as a European base decide to move some or all of their operations to the Continent in order to stay within the bloc’s customs rules. British government officials had lobbied hard to persuade Unilever to maintain its London headquarters, in the hopes of avoiding the symbolic blow of a major company being seen to “leave” the country at a delicate time in its negotiations with EU officials. Unilever officials said Thursday that Brexit did not factor into the company’s decision. — NEW YORK TIMES



Blue Apron to sell meal kits in stores

Blue Apron Holdings Inc. plans to start selling its meal kits in stores later this year, part of an effort to reach more customers as growth stalls. The New York-based pioneer of boxed meals is still very much focused on its core online subscription model, but it’s also considering selling single kits on its website and is in ‘‘active conversations with a variety of retailers’’ to put its meals on store shelves in 2018, said Louise Ward, a spokeswoman. Currently Blue Apron’s offerings consist of weekly deliveries of two to four recipes for as many as four people. Blue Apron has struggled since going public last year, with its shares battered by Amazon.com’s push into the grocery industry and concerns about the subscription meal-kit model. — BLOOMBERG NEWS