1.AMAZON :-Washington, DC’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Amazon.com on Tuesday, alleging the online retailer broke antitrust law by requiring that third-party sellers not offer better deals for their products elsewhere.
Attorney General Karl Racine said Amazon requires third party sellers to give its customers the same or better prices than they offer elsewhere.
But since Amazon’s prices include fees, which can run as high as 40 percent of the total price, Racine said the policy could make prices for the same product more expensive on platforms that compete with Amazon.
The legal action is the latest of multiple state and federal suits filed against the largest tech companies in an effort to limit alleged abuses of their outsized market power.
Amazon disagreed with the lawsuit, saying its policies were aimed at keeping prices low.
“The DC attorney general has it exactly backwards – sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store. Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.
The company’s share price dipped on news of the lawsuit but quickly recovered.
The lawsuit, which was filed in D.C. The Superior Court put Amazon’s share of the U.S. online retail sales market at between 50% and 70%.
“Amazon has used its dominant position in the online retail market to win at all costs. It maximizes its profits at the expense of third-party sellers and consumers, while harming competition,” Racine said in a statement.
The four big tech companies – Amazon.com, Facebook, Alphabet ‘s Google and Apple – have spent more than a year under antitrust scrutiny.
The U.S. Justice Department sued Google late last year alleging violations of antitrust law, as did two groups of states. Facebook was sued by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of states.
2.Xiaomi-China’s Xiaomi Corp said on Wednesday a U.S. court has removed the company’s designation as a Communist Chinese Military Company (CCMC) and lifted all restrictions on U.S. persons buying or holding its stock.
“The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a final order vacating the U.S. Department of Defense’s designation of the company as a CCMC,” the smartphone maker said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse. It said the order was made on Tuesday.
“The company reiterates that it is an open, transparent, publicly traded, independently operated and managed corporation,” Xiaomi chairman Lei Jun said in the statement.
A court filing showed earlier in May that the U.S Defense Department would remove Xiaomi from a government blacklist, marking a reversal by the Biden administration of one of Donald Trump’s last jabs at Beijing before exiting office.
3. MODERNA: Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine was shown to be effective in adolescents aged 12-17 and showed no new or major safety problems in a clinical trial, the developer said on Tuesday, potentially setting the stage for a second vaccine for school-aged children to be authorized in July.
Moderna Inc, whose vaccine is authorized for adults 18 and older, said it will submit the findings of its adolescent study to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulators for emergency use authorization in early June.
U.S. regulators took about a month to review a similar study from Pfizer/BioNtech, which was authorized for ages 12-15 on May 10. If Moderna gets the same treatment, its authorization would come in early July.
Most children with COVID-19 develop only mild symptoms or no symptoms. Yet children remain at risk of becoming seriously ill, and they can spread the virus. Widely vaccinating 12- to 18-year olds could allow U.S. schools and summer camps to relax masking and social distancing measures suggested by the CDC.
“We are encouraged that mRNA-1273 was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in adolescents,” Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Moderna’s trial evaluated the vaccine in 3,732 adolescents aged 12 to 17, two thirds of whom got the vaccine and one third of whom got a placebo. The main goal was to produce an immune response on par with that seen in the company’s large, Phase 3 trial in adults, which was 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19.
Two weeks after the second dose, researchers found no cases of COVID-19 in the vaccine group compared to 4 cases in the placebo group, resulting in a vaccine efficacy of 100%, based on case definitions from the company’s adult trial.
4. MORGAN STANLEY:- Morgan Stanley ‘s efforts to improve the diversity of its workforce and senior management have not proceeded as quickly as Chief Executive James Gorman would have liked, he said in prepared testimony posted on Tuesday.
Wall Street bank chiefs are expected to face tough questions in U.S. Congress on hot-button social and economic issues when they appear before House and Senate committees on Wednesday.
Ahead of the hearing, Morgan Stanley was asked to assess its successes and failures recruiting a diverse workforce generally and at the senior executive level specifically.
“I acknowledge that progress in this area has been slow for us and we can and should do better,” Gorman said. “The events of 2020 focused all of us in a way we had not been before and this was the ultimate call to action to make meaningful change.”
Morgan Stanley faced criticism from some advocacy groups last week following a reshuffle of senior management which positioned four white men as potential successors to Gorman, who has run the bank since 2010.
Achieving greater diversity remains a key priority for Morgan Stanley, Gorman said.
“Every senior manager is required to have a succession plan for his or her senior team members, and part of that plan must include developing a diverse candidate pipeline,” he said.
Other Wall Street banks also used their prepared testimony to detail efforts to increase the diversity of their workforce and provide more services to minority communities.
The banking industry cannot ignore the role it played in the past in contributing to “systemic inequities,” said Citigroup Inc chief Jane Fraser.
5. BLACK STONE-The three directors who have been nominated to the board at Extended Stay America Inc said on Tuesday that a proposed sale undervalues the company and they can help create value as board members if it remains independent.
“We believe we can help the Company create value for shareholders that is well in excess of $19.50 per share,” said the directors, who were nominated to the board by Tarsadia Capital LLC, before the company announced plans in March to sell itself to Blackstone Group and Starwood Capital Group for $6 billion.
Ross Bierkan, Stephen Joyce and Michael Leven, who have lodging industry experience, were speaking out for the first time and joining a chorus of investors opposed to this sale, citing the price.
They said they were acting independently of Tarsadia, the family office that owns 3.9% of Extended Stay and nominated them to the board, and of each other, in a letter seen by Reuters.
“We believe a standalone Extended Stay has a significant opportunity to create value for shareholders, if the Company pursues the right strategy and executes it well,” they wrote.
Extended Stay Chief Executive Bruce Haase disagreed, saying shareholders recognize the “dangerous potential outcomes and immediate value destruction” from opposing the sale, which was at the “right price” at the “right time.”
The trio said the company is expected to benefit from an upswing in travel and demand for lodging after the pandemic.
They cited value in the company’s real estate and said new unit growth could be accelerated through better collaboration with developers and franchisees. They left the door open to a sale.
Capital expenditure needs would be manageable and opportunities would include “both asset sales or a sale of the whole Company,” the letter said.