COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

05 January 2021 | Business

Carl Icahn sells stake in Herbalife

Activist investor Carl Icahn has sold more than half his stake in Herbalife Nutrition back to the company for US$600 million at US$48.05 a share and has given up the five seats on the firm’s board held by his representatives, Herbalife said in a statement.

Icahn had a 15.5% stake in Herbalife as of Sept. 30. The latest deal is expected to close by Jan. 7, after which Icahn Enterprises will hold about 8 million of Herbalife’s shares, representing a stake of about 6%, the statement added.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that in recent days Icahn had sold about 10% of his stake back to the multi-level marketing company, whose products include dietary supplements.

Icahn began buying Herbalife shares in 2013 while extolling the company and had since been its largest shareholder.

In 2013, Herbalife and Icahn Enterprises entered into a support agreement that allowed Icahn Enterprises to have five board seats for as long as it held at least 14 million Herbalife shares. - Nampa/Reuters

Quibi in talks to sell content catalog

Quibi is in advanced talks to sell its content catalog to video-streaming device maker Roku Inc as the streaming service winds down operations, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Los Angeles-based Quibi, which offered entertainment and news in episodes of 10 minutes or less on mobile phones, announced its closure in October, just six months after its launch.

The service, founded by Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg and backed by other investors, was launched on April 6 when audiences were sheltering at home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Under the terms discussed, Roku would acquire rights to Quibi’s library, the Journal said, adding that the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed and talks could still fall apart.

A Roku spokeswoman said the company does not comment on rumours and speculation. Quibi did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. - Nampa/Reuters

Facebook's advertising chief leaves

Facebook Inc’s chief of advertising integrity, who handled the company’s ad products around sensitive subjects such as politics and coronavirus misinformation, departed this week, according to an internal company post viewed by Reuters on Friday.

Rob Leathern, director of product management, said earlier this month on Facebook’s internal network that he would be leaving the company on Dec. 30. His exit had not been previously reported.

Leathern said in the post that he was “leaving Facebook to work on consumer privacy beyond just ads and social media,” without disclosing where he was headed.

Leathern was often the public face of the company’s controversial political advertising policies. Prior to the Nov. 3 US election, Facebook was heavily criticized for allowing misleading claims and conspiracy theories to spread widely on its platforms.

In November, Leathern had tweeted that Facebook did not have “the technical ability in the short term to enable political ads by state or by advertiser.” Subsequently, Facebook lifted a temporary post-election ban on political ads in Georgia ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff that will determine which party controls the US Senate. - Nampa/Reuters

Delta Air Lines expects positive cash flow

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo on Friday that he continues to expect that the company will achieve positive cash flow by the spring.

In his new year note to employees, Bastian said that company will likely “experience two distinct phases during the next 12 months.” The first phase will be similar to 2020, he said.

“The second phase will begin only when we reach a turning point with widely available vaccinations that spur a significant return to travel, particularly business travel.”

Bastian had told investors in October that Delta plans to start paying down its debt in 2021 once it has positive cash flow. Revenues at Delta, which is blocking middle seats until March 30, fell 76% to US$3.1 billion in the third quarter from a year earlier.

“As difficult as 2020 was, in many ways I expect the next 12 months to be even more challenging,” he added. - Nampa/Reuters

Mahindra to focus on SUVs

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd will focus on developing its core portfolio of sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and their electric version, a senior executive said on Friday after the company ended joint venture talks with Ford Motor Co.

Anish Shah, the deputy managing director, said Mahindra will focus mainly on large SUVs for its core India market in the short term and move to electric in the medium term, as it charts a new strategy for its automotive business.

“We are going back to our core,” Shah, who will take over as managing director from April, told Reuters.

“We are going to look ahead at how we can accelerate our investment in electric and really start moving to the new age. We clearly hold the ambition to be a global brand and there again the electric journey is an important one,” Shah said.

Mahindra’s high-end electric vehicle Pininfarina Battista is a starting point, Shah said, adding that the automaker would look at developing more electric platforms in India to build SUVs for the local and export markets.

Mahindra and Ford called off their automotive joint venture due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which prompted them to reassess their capital allocation priorities. – Nampa/Reuters

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