1.APPLE:-Apple Inc was on a collision course with South Korea on Friday over new requirements that it stop forcing app developers to use its payment systems, with a government official warning of a possible investigation into the iPhone maker’s compliance.
The development comes after South Korea amended the Telecommunication Business Act in August to try to curb the tech majors’ market dominance and stop the big app store operators such as Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google from charging commissions on in-app purchases.
The law went into effect last month but Apple had told the South Korean government that it was already complying and did not need to change its app store policy, a Korea Communications Commission (KCC) official in charge of the matter told Reuters.
“This goes against the purpose of the amended law,” the official said, requesting anonymity as the KCC was still in talks with Apple on compliance.
The regulator would ask Apple’s South Korean unit for a new company policy giving greater autonomy in payment methods, and if Apple failed to comply, would consider measures such as a fact-finding probe as a precursor to possible fines or other penalties.
2.JOHNSON & JOHNSON:-Johnson & Johnson put into bankruptcy tens of thousands of legal claims alleging its Baby Powder and other talc-based products caused cancer, offloading the potential liabilities into a newly created subsidiary.
J&J put the talc claims into an entity called LTL Management LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday in North Carolina, according to the company and court records. J&J and its affiliates were not part of the bankruptcy filing.
Tens of thousands of plaintiffs have alleged J&J’s Baby Powder and other talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer, which the company denies. The plaintiffs include women suffering from ovarian cancer and others battling mesothelioma.
J&J executed Thursday’s corporate reshuffling through a contentious legal maneuver known as a Texas two-step bankruptcy, a strategy other companies facing asbestos litigation have used.
In that process, a J&J business split in two through a so-called divisional merger under Texas law. That transaction created LTL, the new entity saddled with J&J’s talc liabilities, according to court papers filed Thursday.
J&J, with a market value exceeding $400 billion, said the talc cases would be halted while LTL navigates bankruptcy proceedings.
The company’s costs defending nearly 40,000 cases have approached $1 billion, according to bankruptcy-court filings Thursday. Settlements and verdicts have cost J&J about $3.5 billion more.
“We are taking these actions to bring certainty to all parties involved in the cosmetic talc cases,” J&J General Counsel Michael Ullmann said in a statement.
“While we continue to stand firmly behind the safety of our cosmetic talc products, we believe resolving this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible is in the best interests of the (company) and all stakeholders,” Ullmann added.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers decried the bankruptcy filing. J&J’s “bankruptcy gimmick is as despicable as it is brazen” and “an unconscionable abuse of the legal system,” said Linda Lipsen, chief executive of the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyers’ group, in a statement.
J&J said it would fund LTL’s legal costs for talc cases in an amount later determined by a bankruptcy judge, with an initial advance of $2 billion. LTL has also received certain royalty revenue streams with a present value of more than $350 million to contribute to potential legal costs, J&J said.
3.MODERNA– On , an FDA advisory panel voted unanimously to give booster shots of Moderna ‘s Covid-19 vaccine to people aged 65 and older and other vulnerable citizens.
The non-binding decision got 19 yes votes after a two-day meeting based on whether available data on Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine booster supports a booster at least six months after being vaccinated.
The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee has brought Moderna’s booster shot in line with Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, which was authorized for the same group less than a month ago.
As the approval has come from an advisory committee, the FDA doesn’t have to follow its advice. However, it often does, and a final decision from the FDA could arrive in the next few days. A CDC advisory panel would then vote on the FDA’s recommendation.
Moderna’s stock price jumped over 4% after news of the panel’s approval. It closed Thursday’s session at $331.88, climbing 3.23% from Wednesday.
4.VOLKSWAGEN:-Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess told a supervisory board meeting in September that the company could lose 30,000 jobs if it transitioned too slowly to electric vehicles (EVs), two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
Competition from new entrants to Germany’s market, like Tesla , has pushed the company to speed up its transformation, Diess is said to have told attendees.
The U.S. EV maker plans to produce 500,000 cars a year in Germany with 12,000 employees, while Volkswagen’s 25,000 produce just 700,000 cars at its Wolfsburg plant.
A company spokesperson confirmed Diess’ position that Tesla and others’ presence in Germany heightened the urgency of transitioning to EVs, but denied that specific calculations had been made on how many jobs could be lost in the process.
“There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of new market entrants,” Volkswagen spokesperson Michael Manske said, pointing to Tesla and new Chinese automakers making inroads into Europe.
“Tesla is setting new standards for productivity and scale in Grunheide,” he said, referring to a Tesla factory under construction near Berlin which at peak capacity will produce 5,000 to 10,000 cars a week – more than twice the German battery-electric vehicle (EV) production in 2020.
“A debate is now underway and there are already many good ideas. There are no concrete scenarios,” Manske said.
The statement by Diess was first reported by Handelsblatt.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen’s workers’ council said that while they would not comment on whether Diess made the remarks, “a reduction of 30,000 jobs is absurd and baseless”.
5.FORD:U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co will temporarily suspend production on Friday at its Hermosillo plant in Mexico’s Sonora state due to a shortage of materials, the plant’s labor union said on Thursday.
Workers will be paid 75% of salaries on Friday, the union added.
Ford had also suspended production from Oct. 11-12 at its Hermosillo plant, where it makes its Bronco Sport SUV and Maverick compact pickup.
The union did not specify which materials were in short supply, but other automakers have been struggling with a chip shortage as manufacturers shifted production toward parts needed for laptop computers, cellphones and video games during the pandemic.
Ford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month, Ford said it would suspend production at its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant and at parts of its Kansas City, Missouri, plant.