Talking Points


Report reinterates allegations against Watertown safari company


Report reinterates allegations against Watertown safari company

A report out Thursday provides a detailed account of allegations previously levied against Thomson Safaris, the Watertown company that has come under fire from land-rights groups and indigenous communities over a large tract of land in Tanzania where the company operates about 250 wildlife tours a year. The report, by the California think tank the Oakland Institute, documents charges against Thomson’s affiliate, Tanzania Conservation Ltd., of illegally obtaining 12,617 acres of land in northern Tanzania, denying access to locals seeking to graze their livestock there, and violently removing Maasai villagers from the land. In late 2015, the High Court of Tanzania at Arusha ruled that Tanzania Conservation Ltd. was the legal owner of 10,000 acres but had to return 2,617 acres to the community; no damages were awarded, and an appeal by the villagers is pending. The report also lays out similar allegations against a United Arab Emirates company that operated hunting trips in the same region and whose license was revoked last year. Judith Wineland, who co-owns Thomson Safaris with her husband, Rick Thomson, vehemently denies the allegations outlined in the report. “We’re a pawn in a game between the NGOs and the Tanzanian government about land and land rights,” she said. Oakland Institute executive director and report author Anuradha Mittal said the goal of the report is not to continue “pointing fingers” at specific companies but to address the plight of indigenous communities around the world. “In too many places,” she wrote, “national governments, private corporations, and large conservation groups collude in the name of conservation, not just to force indigenous groups off their land — but to force them out of existence. The colonization of indigenous land in the name of conservation must end.” — KATIE JOHNSTON


Moody’s downgrades Takeda’s credit rating after Shire deal

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s credit rating was downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service one day after the Japanese drugmaker said it had reached a deal to buy larger rival Shire Plc for about $62 billion. Takeda’s debt rating was cut to A2 from A1 on Wednesday, bringing it down one notch to the sixth-highest investment-grade level. The new rating is under review for further downgrades, Moody’s said in a statement, calling the scale of the Shire transaction “extraordinary.” The Japanese company agreed to buy Shire for 46 billion pounds ($62 billion), or 49.01 pounds a share in cash and stock. To help fund the cash portion of the deal, Takeda secured a bridge loan facility of $31 billion with JPMorgan Chase Bank NA, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., and others. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Michigan company completes purchase of Sunday River, Loon, and Sugarloaf

Michigan-based Boyne Resorts has completed its purchase of six ski resorts it was operating under long-term lease agreements from Maine to British Columbia. CEO Stephen Kircher called the closing with Oz Real Estate this week ‘‘exceptionally gratifying’’ because he’d long wanted to own the properties outright. Boyne now owns Brighton Resort near Salt Lake City; Cypress Mountain in British Columbia; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine; and The Summit at Snoqualmie near Seattle. Also included is the scenic Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Boyne also has three ski resorts in Michigan and the Big Sky Resort in Montana. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Adidas removes tank top with USSR letters amid uproar


Lithuania has welcomed a decision by sports gear company Adidas to remove a tank top with the letters USSR and emblems of the Soviet Union from its online store in the country, after the shirt provoked anger from many in the former Soviet republic. The Foreign Ministry tweeted Tuesday that the move was ‘‘respect for millions of victims of Soviet totalitarian regime (and) is an issue of human decency.’’ Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1990, and today Soviet symbols are likened to Nazi ones and are banned. Officials there earlier said the shirt was ‘‘sick with ‘imperial nostalgia.’ ’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS


CEO of Lonely Planet departs amid reports the brand is for sale

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Daniel Houghton, the wunderkind CEO of Lonely Planet has departed, the company confirmed Wednesday, amid reports that the travel brand and guidebook publisher is up for sale. Skift, the travel industry media company, reported Wednesday that Lonely Planet’s ‘‘parent company NC2 is said to be pursuing a sale.’’ Houghton was an unknown 24-year-old when he was named CEO of Lonely Planet in 2013. He restructured the company, expanded its digital presence, grew the print side of the business, and established headquarters for Lonely Planet in Franklin, Tenn. For many years, Lonely Planet was the guidebook brand for budget backpackers, thanks to its founders, Tony and Maureen Wheeler. The Wheelers wrote their first book, ‘‘Across Asia on the Cheap,’’ in 1973 after driving from Europe to Afghanistan in a car that cost $150. That self-published book sold 1,500 copies in a week and launched a travel empire that has sold millions of books. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Ohio governor opens all public roads to testing of autonomous vehicles

Republican Governor John Kasich is opening all of Ohio’s public roads to smart vehicle testing. Kasich signed an executive order Wednesday authorizing autonomous vehicle research to take place across the state. The order also lays out safety parameters for such projects and creates a voluntary pilot program linking local governments to participating companies. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Groupon stock makes a comeback

Groupon Inc.’s crusade to make its service easier to use is getting results. Shares of the e-commerce service rose the most in more than a year after sales and adjusted earnings topped analysts’ estimates. The company’s annual forecast also handily beat Wall Street projections. Groupon, once derided as a fad coupon site, has built a comeback on eliminating hassles from its service. It now offers deals through a streamlined mobile app and rolled out a program called Groupon+ that lets users get cash back by linking their credit cards. That’s helped give Groupon an edge in so-called local commerce — the act of pairing up consumers with businesses in their neighborhoods. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Ford to cut production of pickups due to parts supply problem

Production of Ford Motor Co.’s most profitable model line, the F-Series pickups, is likely to be knocked out for several weeks by a fire that’s cut off supply of critical parts to two of the automaker’s truck factories, said a person familiar with the situation. Ford already has shut its F-150 plant in Kansas City, which employs 3,600 workers, and has halted production of its Super Duty trucks in Ohio and Kentucky. The automaker’s other source of the popular F-150, in Dearborn, Mich., may go down this week, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing speculative matters. About 4,000 workers are employed at the Dearborn factory. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Chipotle to install flat-screen panels to speed off-site orders


Even burritos are going high tech. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is spending almost $10,000 a restaurant to add flat-screen panels that will allow workers to fulfill off-site orders more quickly, according to chief digital and information officer Curt Garner. The move will improve the additional production lines — dedicated to digital, online, and catering orders — that Chipotle has added to supplement the front lines that serve in-store diners. — BLOOMBERG NEWS