COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

31 July 2020 | Business

Kodak CEO's swells US$79 mln

Eastman Kodak Co CEO Jim Continenza added US$79 million to his net worth on Wednesday when his options in the imaging company turned from worthless to lucrative thanks to a US government loan for a pharmaceutical ingredients supply deal that super-charged the value of his shares.

Kodak's stock increased 1,167% in value in two days, after the administration of President Donald Trump agreed to provide a US$765 million loan for the company to produce pharmaceutical ingredients to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Continenza's stock options, granted to him when he became Kodak's CEO and executive chairman in 2019, had no value on Monday, but were worth U$59 million on Wednesday following the rally in the stock, according to an analysis by compensation consultant Farient Advisors.

Continenza also owned 650 000 Kodak shares as of June 23, which went up in value on the news by US$20 million.

Kodak did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Before news of the deal, Kodak, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2013, was only worth a little over U$100 million.

While Kodak's rally enriched all its shareholders, more than half the company is owned by a few key insiders, including board directors Philippe Katz and George Karfunkel. - Nampa/Reuters

Snap to hire more minorities

Snap Inc, the parent of photo messaging app Snapchat, on Wednesday pledged to double the

number of minorities and women staff in its tech teams.

Women represented 32.9% of Snap's global workforce in 2019, but make up only 16.1% of its tech teams, the company said in its first annual diversity report.

The social media company said that gender balance within its tech teams remained low and it will double the number of women in tech roles by 2023.

The findings mirrored the limited progress made by tech heavyweights in employing more women and minorities.

"We are determined to do what it takes to improve these numbers, because behind the numbers are real people," Snap said.

Snap added that it aimed to double the number of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in the United States by 2025. – Nampa/Reuters

Sinopharm to test vaccine

Chinese drug company Sinopharm and Parana state have agreed to launch the fourth major Covid-19 vaccine trial in Brazil and will seek regulatory approval in the next two weeks, the Brazilian partners said.

A trial by Sinopharm would join Phase III trials already announced in Brazil by AstraZeneca, Sinovac Biotech and a Pfizer partnership with BioNTech.

Jorge Callado, head of the Parana Technology Institute (Tecpar), said they would soon finalize their proposal and submit it for approval with federal health regulator Anvisa.

Brazil's Covid-19 outbreak, the world's worst outside the United States, has made it global testing ground for potential vaccines.

Parana is also in talks with Russian researchers about producing their potential vaccine, the state government said in a statement, adding that Governor Ratinho would soon meet with Russia's ambassador to Brazil.

Russians have also contacted Sao Paulo's Butantan Institute to discuss testing their vaccine, the institute's director told reporters on Wednesday. – Nampa/Reuters

Aldi to create 1 200 UK jobs

Aldi, Britain's fifth-largest supermarket group, will create an additional 1 200 jobs this year in the United Kingdom, which will boost its total new jobs in the UK to 4,000 for the year, the company said on Wednesday.

Aldi, which has more than 890 stores and employs around 35 000 people across the UK, said in an emailed statement that it is opening new stores Sandhurst, Bristol and Edinburgh.

The additional jobs are a rare occurrence in the sector, which has otherwise been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak due to government restrictions on movement as well as consumer fears about large public gatherings.

Unlike the country's big four grocers - industry leader Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons - Aldi and rival Lidl GB are continuing to open new stores, driving market share gains.

German-owned discount supermarket Lidl said earlier this month that it plans to open over 25 new stores in the next six months, creating 1 000 jobs. - Nampa/Reuters

Apache, Total make oil discovery

Oil producer Apache Corp and its joint venture partner Total SA said on Wednesday they made their third oil discovery offshore Suriname, sending Apache's shares up 14% in after-market trading.

The Suriname discovery, dubbed "among the most anticipated in the world" by one brokerage, is seen as central to Apache's efforts to reduce its reliance on the Alpine High venture in Texas' Permian basin, which has suffered from diving natural gas prices.

"This is the best well we've drilled in the basin to date, with the highest net pay in the best quality reservoirs," Apache chief executive officer John Christmann said.

The third major find was at the Kwaskwasi-1 well drilled offshore Suriname in Block 58, which comprises 1.4 million acres.

Once operations at Kwaskwasi-1 are completed, the drilling ship will move to the fourth prospect in Block 58, Keskesi, Apache said. Apache did not provide any estimates for recoverable oil and gas. – Nampa/Reuters