Briefs: Aubrey McClen­don’s crash; Aber­crom­bie looks natty

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS - By Kyle Stock Edited by James E. El­lis

●● Aubrey McClen­don, f ormer CEO of Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy, died in a car ac­ci­dent a day af­ter be­ing in­dicted on charges of rig­ging the price rice of oil and gas wells in Ok­la­homa. He was con­sid­ered a shale gas sa­vant, build­ing Ch­e­sa­peake from a wild­cat op­er­a­tion to a drilling em­pire with rights to 16 mil­lion acres in his home state. Be­fore the ac­ci­dent, McClen­don, 56, called the al­le­ga­tions “wrong and un­prece­dented.”

●● Sports Au­thor­ity filed for bank­ruptcy and said it would close al­most one-third of its 450 stores as it strug­gles to com­pete with Dick’s Sport­ing Goods, Wal­mart Stores, Tar­get, and on­line re­tail­ers. Its big­gest cred­i­tors in­clude Nike and Un­der Armour. The com­pany ob­tained $595 mil­lion in bank­ruptcy fi­nanc­ing to get back in shape.

●● Mon­santo cut its profit fore­cast for the year, cit­ing sev­eral macroe­co­nomic chal­lenges, in­clud­ing a strong doll ar and r el at i vel y l ow com­mod­ity prices. The seed and fer­til­izer gi­ant is also fac­ing a glut of generic glyphosate, a weed killer that long cul­ti­vated big prof­its for it.

●● Ap­ple at­tor­neys won a small bat­tle in their war over pri­vacy rights. A Brook­lyn judge ruled that the com­pany doesn’t have to help un­lock a drug dealer’s i Phone, val­i­dat­ing months of court ar­gu­ments from the tech gi­ant. The rul­ing gives Ap­ple a valu­able win as it faces a sim­i­lar le­gal fight with fed­eral au­thor­i­ties.

●● Af­ter putting more clothes on its mod­els, Aber­crom­bie & Fitch posted its first same-store sales gain in more than three years for the quar­ter ended Jan. 30. Profit in­creased 33 per­cent in the pe­riod, to $58.9 mil­lion. in­vest­ment pri­or­ity,” Moseley says. Hans Bishop, Juno’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, says the biotech’s in­ter­ac­tion with the Alaska fund is sim­i­lar to th that of its other big in­vestors— exce ex­cept that Alaska in­spired the com­pany pany’s name, which is that of a Ro­man god­dess but also al­ludes to the state’s cap­i­tal. “The com­pany was orig­i­nally in­cor­po­rated as FC Ther­a­peu­tics, ‘f ’ be­ing a fourlet­ter An­glo-Saxon word and ‘c’ be­ing can­cer,” Bishop says. “It’s a re­ally, re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing guid­ing call for all of us. But we re­al­ized we thought it was a su­perb name, but it prob­a­bly wasn’t with­out its lim­i­ta­tions.”

Juno is work­ing to ge­net­i­cally re­pro­gram im­mune cells to fight can­cer, re­mov­ing T cells and then chang­ing them to rec­og­nize and kill tu­mors. High cure rates in small tri­als have im­pressed doc­tors and at­tracted a $1 bil­lion in­vest­ment from Cel­gene.

The Alaska fund’s ad­min­is­tra­tors say they were con­fi­dent about mak­ing such big bets in a no­to­ri­ously boomand-bust in­dus­try be­cause they worked closely with biotech-in­vest­ment spe­cial­ist Arch Ven­ture Part­ners and had the deals vet­ted by out­side ex­perts. And they say it’s all about mak­ing money for Alaska. “It’s not our job or ex­pec­ta­tion that we’ll cre­ate some Ken­dall Square in Juneau, Alaska,” Moseley says, re­fer­ring to the biotech hub in Cam­bridge, Mass.

None­the­less, Juno’s value has fallen about 9 per­cent since the be­gin­ning of the year, part of the roller-coaster ride for biotech stock val­u­a­tions this year. “If you took all the dol­lars we’ve in­vested in life sci­ences com­pa­nies and all those that are con­tem­plated over the next cou­ple years,” Moseley says, “it’s still less than half the cur­rent cap­i­tal gain on that one deal, Juno.” That per­for­mance hasn’t gone un­no­ticed by politi­cians, who rely on oil for as much as 90 per­cent of state rev­enue. Since the re­cent cra­ter­ing in crude prices, Gov­er­nor Bill Walker wants to tap the fund for bil­lions to off­set bud­get short­falls. −Doni Bloom­field

The bot­tom line

The state fund that man­ages Alaska’s oil wealth in­vested $129 mil­lion in Juno Ther­a­peu­tics. The stake is now worth $1 bil­lion.

Star Wars ma­nia con­trib­uted to a 25 per­cent in­crease in sales for Lego last year. It sold 72 bil­lion bricks in 2015 and re­leased 350 prod­ucts, in­clud­ing a video game.

CEO Wis­dom “For peo­ple un­der 35, their def­i­ni­tion of health is look­ing good in their un­der­wear.” ——Mark Bertolini, CEO, Aetna

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