Business Highlights


DuPont, Dow Chemical seek merger, then 3-way split

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Dow Chemical and DuPont are merging to form a company valued at about $130 billion as they try to counter falling commodities prices and weakness in some key markets that have pressured their giant agriculture and chemicals businesses.

The two companies, whose research has brought the world products such as Ziploc bags, Saran wrap and Teflon coatings, will first form DowDuPont, then separate into three independent publicly traded companies focused on agriculture, material science and specialty products.

The proposed merger, announced Friday, would temporarily create the world’s second-largest chemical company.


The agitators behind Dow, DuPont, Yahoo moves

NEW YORK (AP) — Dow Chemical, DuPont and Yahoo didn’t so much leap toward new corporate futures this week. They were pushed.

Behind the $130 billion merger of Dow and DuPont and the impending breakup of Yahoo were large investment firms that were agitating for change.

These firms, known as activist investors, buy enormous numbers of shares in companies they think are not performing well and then use that power to influence corporate strategy.

Win or lose, they cause a commotion in boardrooms and on Wall Street, and they’re becoming a more powerful force.


Samsung aid for sick workers comes with conditions, secrecy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung’s hopes of ending years of acrimony over whether its computer chip factories caused cancer have hit a hitch: some sickened workers and their families say they’ll never accept its highly conditional offer of financial assistance.

While still not conceding a link between the chemicals used in its semiconductor factories and cancer, the electronics company has apologized and promised financial help for sick workers.

But the main advocacy group for sick workers, Banolim, says the payments do nothing to address prevention that would cause further illnesses for other workers.


Alibaba buys Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper

HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Friday it’s buying Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, as part of a plan to create a global platform for news about China.

Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd., founded by billionaire Jack Ma, said it signed a deal with publisher SCMP Group to buy the Post and the company’s other media assets, which include magazines, outdoor advertising and digital media.

The acquisition gives control of the Asian financial centre’s most prominent English-language publication to a mainland Chinese company.


Retails sales rise in November as shopping picks up

WASHINGTON (AP) — Holiday shoppers are off to a solid but unspectacular start as retail sales showed a modest gain in November.

The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 per cent to $448 billion last month. This marks an improvement after months of lacklustre spending.

But in November, shoppers upped their spending at clothiers, sporting goods stores and electronics outlets. Spending at online retailers advanced a healthy 0.6 per cent. General merchandise stores also improved, but sales at department stores were flat.


Treasury delaying announcement of woman going on $10 bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The country will have to wait a bit longer to find out who will become the first woman on U.S. paper currency in more than a century.

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had said he would announce a decision by the end of this year naming the woman who will replace Alexander Hamilton’s portrait on the $10 bill.

But late Friday, Treasury issued a statement saying the announcement was being delayed until sometime in 2016. Treasury says the delay will give the government time to “carefully review and consider a range of options” for the currency redesign.

Lew had set off a furor in June when he announced he was replacing Hamilton’s portrait on the $10 bill with a woman.


SEC moves toward limits on funds’ use of derivatives

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are moving toward imposing restrictions on the use of derivatives by mutual funds, aiming to protect investors in funds that rely on the high-risk transactions.

Members of the Securities and Exchange Commission voted Friday to propose the limits on derivatives use by mutual funds as well as exchange-traded funds.

The proposal goes out for public comment for 90 days, and it could be formally adopted by the SEC sometime after that.


Regulators want more details about Walgreens-Rite Aid deal

The Federal Trade Commission wants more information about Walgreens’ $9.41-billion plan to buy rival drugstore chain Rite Aid, a sign that regulators may be concerned about the deal’s impact on competition.

Walgreens said Friday that it fielded a request for additional information beyond what the companies have already been required to provide under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Walgreens said it expected the request.

A former Justice Department attorney said regulators ask for more information when their initial review of a deal suggests that there are “serious competitive concerns.”


FDA approves Genentech drug for advanced lung cancer

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday conditionally approved an experimental Genentech drug for patients with a certain type of lung cancer who have few other options.

Alecensa won accelerated approval for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer with a mutation in a gene called ALK who have relapsed after treatment with Pfizer Inc.’s Xalkori or who could not tolerate that drug. The mutation in ALK, or anaplastic lymphoma kinase, indirectly drives growth of tumors.

Accelerated approval is granted to medicines for serious or life-threatening conditions that show an effect likely to benefit patients.


Volkswagen group sales 2.2 per cent lower in November

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen said Friday that its global sales were 2.2 per cent lower in November than a year earlier, with increases in western European and Chinese deliveries helping cushion the impact of steep drops in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The German automaker has been hit by fallout from the diesel emissions-cheating scandal that erupted in mid-September in the U.S. and then spread worldwide.

The company said it delivered 833,700 vehicles worldwide last month, down from 852,900 in November 2014.


The S&P 500 index fell 39.86 points, or 1.9 per cent, to close at 2,012.37. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 309.54 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 17,265.21. The Nasdaq composite declined 111.71 points, or 2.2 per cent, to 4,933.47.

Benchmark U.S. crude plunged $1.14, or 3 per cent, to close at $35.62 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, fell $1.80, or 4.5 per cent, to $37.93 a barrel in London. In New York, heating oil plunged eight cents, or 6.5 per cent, to $1.146 a gallon, wholesale gasoline was little changed at $1.282 a gallon, and natural gas lost 2.5 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $1.99 per 1,000 cubic feet.