COMPANY NEWS IN BRIEF

14 April 2021 | Business

Discovery signs licensing deal with Sanofi

Drug developer C4X Discovery said on Monday it has signed an exclusive licensing deal worth up to 414 million euros (US$492.12 million) with French drug maker Sanofi to develop an oral therapy for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

A unit of the London-listed company will get an upfront payment of 7 million euros and receive up to a further 407 million euros for potential development, regulatory and commercialisation milestones.

The deal is for C4X's oral pre-clinical IL-17A inhibitor programme and under the license Sanofi will develop and commercialise an oral therapy treatment.

IL-17 family of cytokines, or inflammatory proteins, are implicated in various autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

"While antibody therapies have demonstrated the potential of IL-17 inhibition the injectable route means many patients currently do not have access to the medicines that can change their lives," Chief Executive Officer Clive Dix said. - Nampa/Reuters

Anglo American output on track

A resurgence of Covid-19 in Chile should not dampen output at Anglo American’s sprawling copper mines in the Andean nation this year, nor is it likely to pose near-term supply chain problems, the company's top executive in Chile told Reuters.

Aaron Puna, who took over as CEO of Anglo American in Chile in 2019, said its Chilean operations had weathered the pandemic in top shape, and said they were well-prepared to confront the latest surge in cases and restrictions.

Chile cases spiked this week to pandemic highs, bringing hospitals to near collapse and prompting authorities to lock down Santiago, the capital, and close the South American nation's borders.

Puna said he didn't anticipate near-term issues with output, shipping or supply chain despite the latest round of restrictions. "We haven't got any red flags or concerns around what we see in the next eight weeks or so," he said.

Anglo was the worst hit among its peers by coronavirus lockdowns in 2020, including in countries such as South Africa and Botswana, though its Chile operations emerged largely unscathed. - Nampa/Reuters

Alibaba shrugs off US$2.75 bln antitrust fine

Alibaba does not expect any material impact from the antitrust crackdown in China that will push it to overhaul how it deals with merchants, its CEO said yesterday, after regulators fined the e-commerce giant US$2.75 billion for abusing market dominance.

Shares in Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd rose as much as 9% in Hong Kong trade as a key source of uncertainty for the company was removed, and on relief the fine and steps ordered were not more onerous.

Alibaba has come under intense scrutiny since billionaire founder Jack Ma's public criticism of the Chinese regulatory system in October.

As part of "comprehensive rectifications" sought by regulators, Alibaba will make it easier for merchants to do business with it, Chief Executive Daniel Zhang told an online conference for media and analysts.

Alibaba executives said despite Saturday's record 18 billion yuan (US$2.75 billion) fine and measures ordered by regulators, they remain confident in the government's overall support of the company. - Nampa/Reuters

Teleperformance raises growth target

French outsourcing group Teleperformance SE raised its 2021 revenue growth outlook on Monday, citing strong sales momentum supported by faster digitalisation of working practices in the post-pandemic economy.

Teleperformance, which employs more than 380 000 call centre workers worldwide, now expects to report like-for-like revenue growth of at least 12% this year, versus an earlier projection of 9%.

It also reported 35.9% like-for-like sales growth at 1.7 billion euros (US$2.02 billion) for the first three months of the year in an unscheduled earnings release, saying it had seen growth especially in continental Europe and Latin America.

"This excellent quarterly performance confirms the positive trends observed in the second half of 2020 despite the uncertainties associated with the global health crisis," Chief Executive Officer Daniel Julien said in the statement.

The group, whose customers include global giants such as Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc, said in February it expected the digital shift in workplaces to outlast Covid-19 lockdowns. - Nampa/Reuters

Microsoft to buy AI firm Nuance

Microsoft Corp said on Monday it would buy artificial intelligence and speech technology firm Nuance Communications Inc in a US$19.7 billion deal including net debt, as it seeks to bolster its cloud strategy for healthcare.

The deal comes as both companies, which partnered in 2019 to automate clinical administrative work such as documentation, gain from a boom in telehealth services as medical consultations shifted online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Nuance provides the AI layer at the healthcare point of delivery," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement, adding "AI is technology's most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application."

Microsoft's offer of $56 per share represents a premium of 22.86% to Nuance's last close. Shares of Nuance rose nearly 23% in pre-market trading.

Mark Benjamin will remain the chief executive officer of Nuance and will report to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft, the company said. - Nampa/Reuters

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