News Archive

Japan’s Renesas in talks to buy U.S. chipmaker Maxim: CNBC

(Reuters) – Japanese chip company Renesas Electronics Corp (6723.T) is in talks to acquire U.S. chipmaker Maxim Integrated Products Inc (MXIM.O) in a deal that could be valued up to $20 billion, CNBC reported on Monday.

A deal is not imminent and one may not happen, CNBC said.

Neither company was immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Maxim’s shares ended 12.3 percent higher at $66.27 on the Nasdaq on Monday following the report.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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Coffee meets 7UP in Keurig, Dr Pepper Snapple deal

(Reuters) – Keurig Green Mountain has struck a deal worth more than $21 billion to combine with soda maker Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc (DPS.N) to form a North American drinks company with brands like Green Mountain Coffee, 7UP, Snapple and Sunkist.

The latest in a five-year string of acquisitions by Keurig’s owner, Luxembourg-based JAB Holding Co, it creates an enlarged group with a wide range of hot and cold beverages, different ways to access customers and a bigger platform for further deals.

“We have a really wide portfolio of brands, we’re able to address almost every consumer need in every format and … to reach every point of sale,” Keurig Chief Executive Bob Gamgort told Reuters.

“If you want to win in the beverage industry you need a portion of your portfolio that gives you significant scale and then you need to be able to layer in higher growth segments,” he said.

Keurig will pay a special dividend of $103.75 per share to Dr Pepper Snapple shareholders, resulting in a cash payment of $18.7 billion. Those shareholders will also retain a 13 percent stake in the combined company to be called ‘Keurig Dr Pepper’.

A 13 percent stake in Dr Pepper Snapple was worth more than $2.2 billion before the deal was announced. The company’s shares jumped 25 percent on Monday to $119.70 in New York.

Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj estimates the deal’s value at $26 billion to $27 billion.

“From DPS’ perspective at this time it makes a lot of sense,” said Josh Blechman, director of capital markets at Exponential ETFs, which owns shares of Dr Pepper Snapple. “They needed to diversify their business line from sugary drinks, so I think that this is a really good deal.”

The companies expect $600 million in cost-savings, and see opportunities to expand the business such as by selling coffee in bottles and in vending machines. Dr Pepper’s direct-to-store delivery model will be complemented by Keurig’s online presence and relationships with major supermarket chains.


Bulking up is a way to boost efficiency in the business at a time when soft drink sales are falling as consumers cut down on sugar.

“If your truck is becoming less full because volumes are declining, you should have other beverages to fill that spot,” said Bernstein’s Dibadj, who has predicted beer and soft drink tie-ups for the same reason.

“The likelihood that Coke (KO.N) and Pepsi (PEP.O) will get bought has just gone up,” Dibadj said. That would mean a mega-deal, given those soft-drink giants have market values of more than $200 billion and $170 billion respectively.

Keurig Green Mountain is the leading single-serve coffee company in the United States. It was taken over by JAB, the holding company of the German billionaire Reimann family, in 2016 for $13.9 billion.

JAB has been on an acquisition spree in recent years, with a string of restaurant deals including Au Bon Pain, Krispy Kreme and Panera Bread as well as several coffee businesses from niche brand Intelligentsia to controlling the international coffee operations of Mondelez International (MDLZ.O).

JAB and its partners will make an equity investment of $9 billion in the deal. Mondelez, now a major Keurig shareholder, will own about 13 percent to 14 percent of the combined company.

Jefferies analysts said further deals by Keurig Dr Pepper are very likely, as the company pays down a debt load expected to be about $16.6 billion when the deal closes, scheduled for the second quarter.

The company expects to get its leverage to below three times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization within two to three years, while paying an annual dividend of 60 cents per share.

Goldman Sachs was the lead financial adviser to Keurig and Credit Suisse advised Dr Pepper Snapple on the deal.

  • Factbox: JAB’s empire expands in soda with Dr Pepper Snapple deal

Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Bill Rigby

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Exxon plans major U.S. investments due to tax reform: CEO

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) plans to invest billions of dollars in the United States due in part to recently approved corporate tax rate cuts, the company’s chief executive said on Monday.

Darren Woods, head of the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer, said in a blog post on the company’s website that Exxon expects to spend $50 billion in U.S. projects over the next five years. The company also is “actively evaluating” projects now in planning stages as a result of new tax and regulatory changes, he wrote. (

More than $35 billion of that amount is for projects not previously announced, according to company spokesman Scott Silvestri.

Exxon previously pledged tens of billions of dollars for U.S. refining, petrochemical and shale exploration efforts. Last spring, it laid out a $20 billion investment in its U.S. Gulf Coast chemical and oil refining operations through 2022.

The company also is increasing investment in its West Texas and New Mexico shale operations, and moving ahead on a $10 billion petrochemical complex with Saudi Basic Industries Corp in Texas.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a tax reform package last month that cut top corporate income rates to 21 percent from 35 percent and allowed for immediate expensing for capital costs of projects.

“The recent changes to the U.S. corporate tax rate coupled with smarter regulation create an environment for future capital investments,” Woods said, adding Exxon is reviewing “the impact of the lower tax rate on the economics of several other projects currently in the planning stages.”

Woods took over the top job in January 2017 after former chief Rex Tillerson resigned to become U.S. secretary of state.

Exxon is slated to report its quarterly results on Friday.

Shares of Exxon fell 1 percent to close Monday at $88.09 as oil prices CLc1 also fell.

Reporting by Gary McWilliams and Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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Wall St. slides as Apple weighs

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street pulled back from record highs on Monday with the SP 500 marking its biggest one-day percentage decline in about five months, weighed down by a slide in Apple shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 177.23 points, or 0.67 percent, to 26,439.48, the SP 500 .SPX lost 19.34 points, or 0.67 percent, to 2,853.53 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 39.27 points, or 0.52 percent, to 7,466.51.

Reporting by Stephen Culp; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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U.S. rejects proposals to unblock NAFTA, but will stay in talks

MONTREAL (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade chief on Monday dismissed Canadian proposals for unblocking NAFTA modernization talks but pledged to stay at the table, easing concerns about a potentially imminent U.S. withdrawal from the trilateral pact.

Trump, who described the 1994 pact as a disaster that has drained manufacturing jobs to Mexico, has frequently threatened abandon it unless it can be renegotiated to bring back jobs to the United States.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said after a sixth round of NAFTA modernization talks in Montreal that Trump’s views on the pact are unchanged, and cautioned that talks are still moving too slowly on U.S. priorities.

“We finally began to discuss the core issues, so this round was a step forward,” Lighthizer said. “But we are progressing very slowly. We owe it to our citizens, who are operating in a state of uncertainty, to move much faster.”

But Lighthizer’s Mexican and Canadian counterparts said that enough progress was made in Montreal to be optimistic about concluding the pact “soon,” with nine days of talks in Mexico City scheduled to start Feb. 26.

“For the next round, we will still have substantial challenges to overcome. Yet the progress made so far puts us on the right track to create landing zones to conclude the negotiation soon,” said Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

Officials are now openly speculating that the bid to salvage the $1.2-trillion free trade pact will continue well beyond an end-March deadline set to avoid Mexican presidential elections.


Heading into Montreal last week, some officials had feared the United States might be prepared to pull the plug on the pact amid frustration over slow progress.

The mood lightened after Canada presented a series of suggested compromises to address U.S. demands for reform.

But Lighthizer criticized Canadian proposals to meet U.S. demands for higher North American content in autos, saying it would in fact reduce regional autos jobs and allow more Chinese-made parts into vehicles made in the region.

He also dismissed a suggestion on settling disputes between investors and member states as “unacceptable” and “a poison pill” and said a recent Canadian challenge against U.S. trade practices at the World Trade organization “constitutes a massive attack on all of our trade laws.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who stood stony faced as Lighthizer made his remarks, later told reporters that “the negotiating process is … always dramatic.”

A Canadian government source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, noted Lighthizer had not speculated about withdrawal and said the U.S. official had been more positive in private than during previous rounds.

Officials said the negotiating teams had closed a chapter on anti-corruption measures and were close to wrapping up sections on telecommunications, sanitary measures for the agriculture industry and technical barriers to trade.

But the three sides are still far apart over U.S. demands to boost regional auto content requirements to 85 percent from the current 62.5 percent and require 50 percent U.S. content in North American-built vehicles.

Other challenges are Washington’s demands that NAFTA largely eliminate trade and investment dispute-settlement systems and contain a “sunset” clause to force renegotiations every five years.

Critical comments by Trump, Lighthizer and others have unsettled markets that fret about the potential damage to a highly integrated North American economy if the United States gives six months’ notice it is leaving.

The Mexican round next month is an extra set of talks that officials added to help tackle the many remaining challenges. Negotiators are supposed to finish in Washington in March with the eighth and final round.

Although some officials have privately speculated about freezing the talks at the start of April, Guajardo told reporters that “we cannot afford to suspend this process.”

Writing by David Ljunggren; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert and David Ljunggren in Montreal; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski

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Apple shares skid on report of iPhone X production cut

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) will halve its iPhone X production target for the first three months of the year to around 20 million units, Nikkei reported on Monday, sending its shares down 1.6 percent.

The report added to growing concerns about weak sales of the $999 phone, making investors jittery about the company’s financial outlook when it reports first-quarter results on Thursday.

Apple’s shares fell to their lowest level in 2018, knocking off $14 billion from the company’s market value. The company declined to comment.

Analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Bernstein cut both his second-quarter and full-year forecasts for iPhones but said he did not expect Apple’s 2018 profit to fall steeply because of changes to U.S. tax law that will bring the company’s rate down to 18 percent.

“Apple earnings should handily beat December quarter expectations, but March guidance could moderately disappoint,” UBS analysts said.

The production cut was prompted by slower-than-expected sales in the holiday shopping season in Europe, the United States and China, the Japanese newspaper reported, without citing a source. (

The iPhone X was the first phone to sport a new design since the launch of the iPhone 6 in 2015 and many expected it to lead to blockbuster sales, dubbed by Wall Street analysts as a “supercycle.”

“This was supposed to be the supercycle year and if Apple hasn’t been able to drive substantial unit growth this year, then that makes you a little cautious on future iPhone cycles,” Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell said.

Several analysts have lowered their estimates for iPhone X shipments in the past few weeks, citing the high price of the device and other factors, with at least three downgrading their rating on the stock.

Sacconaghi of Bernstein had originally predicted that Apple would outpace Wall Street expectations of 62 million iPhones by selling 66 million units, but on Monday he cut that figure to 53 million units, a nearly 20-percent cut. He also cut his full year iPhone unit forecast 11 percent to 220 million units.

But he only slightly revised his full-year earnings per share estimate for 2018 to $11.80 from $11.87, citing the positive effects of U.S. tax law changes.

Adding to the concerns, Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) said last week its postpaid device activations were lower than last year as people were keeping phones longer.

A survey of people planning to buy the iPhone showed that the percentage of them looking to buy the iPhone X has dropped to 37 percent from 43 percent in an earlier survey, UBS analysts wrote in a note on Monday.

The iPhone X, which features an edge-to-edge display and facial recognition technology to unlock the phone, went on sale in November in the United States.

Asian supply chain checks suggest that iPhone X orders have been weakening recently, with first-quarter production likely to be about 20 million units, JP Morgan analysts wrote in a note dated Jan. 24.

A few of Apple’s iPhone parts suppliers are based in Asia. Shares of Foxconn, one of Apple’s main suppliers and formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd (2317.TW), fell 0.7 percent on Monday.

Shares of U.S.-listed Apple suppliers such as Micron Technology Inc (MU.O) edged lower following Nikkei’s report.

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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Panera debuts service to help restaurants ‘clean up’ their menus

(Reuters) – Panera Bread Co, a pioneer in serving “clean” restaurant food, has started a consulting service to help other chains remove artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors and colors from menus.

The bakery/cafe chain’s “clean consultant” services include helping clients find ways to source healthier and more natural ingredients and to improve and differentiate menus, Panera said on Monday.

“We want to help industry peers devise strategies that prioritize clean across their whole menu, rather than focusing on a single ingredient or product,” said Sara Burnett, Panera’s director of wellness and food policy.

She said Panera, which competes with Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N) and other limited-service chains, has removed more than 150 ingredients from its food. On Monday it also announced its latest retooled product: “clean” chicken wing sauce.

Panera founder and Chairman Ron Shaich said industry peers had approached the company for help in cleaning up their menus. “We thought it was time to formalize that advice,” he said.

Shaich said the service would help end “clean washing,” where companies reformulate a product like chicken nuggets to be more natural and then serve it with dipping sauces made from unnatural or unhealthy ingredients.

Panera did not say how many consultants it would hire or how many clients had signed up for the service.

Privately held JAB Holding bought Panera in July in an all-cash deal valued at around $7.5 billion, including debt. JAB also owns Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee Tea and Keurig Green Mountain, which on Monday said it planned to buy soda maker Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc (DPS.N) in a deal worth more than $21 billion.

Panera has led other public health efforts ranging from disclosing calorie counts on menus to curbing purchases of meats raised with medically important antibiotics.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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Sanofi beats Novo to buy Ablynx for $4.8 billion in biotech M&A boom

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) – French drugmaker Sanofi has agreed to buy Belgian biotech company Ablynx for 3.9 billion euros ($4.8 billion), beating Novo Nordisk and marking its second big deal this month after buying Bioverativ.

The transaction is a further sign of accelerating merger and acquisition (MA) activity in the global biotech sector and comes after Ablynx rejected a 2.6 billion euro offer from Denmark’s Novo Nordisk.

Sanofi said on Monday it would pay 45 euros per share in cash for Ablynx, a premium of 21 percent over its closing price on Friday, and more than double the price before Novo went public with its initial bid.

Novo Nordisk conceded defeat, saying it could not justify the knock-out price being paid by Sanofi for Ablynx, which is developing a prized experimental drug for a rare blood disorder.

This month has seen a spike in multibillion-dollar deals in biotech, with U.S.-based Celgene paying $9 billion for cancer specialist Juno Therapeutics, and several experts predicting a bumper year for MA.

Total biotech MA so far this month now stands at $26.3 billion, or more than 80 percent of the value of all deals in 2016 and far ahead of any comparable January tally in over a decade, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Such deals are being driven by the need for large drugmakers to tap the promising new medicines being developed by smaller rivals to help revive flagging growth.

Last week, Sanofi agreed to buy U.S. haemophilia specialist Bioverativ for $11.6 billion, its biggest deal for seven years and a major play to strengthen its presence in treatments for rare diseases.

Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Olivier Brandicourt said the deals expanded the French company’s late-stage pipeline and strengthened its line-up of treatments for rare blood disorders – but did not necessarily mark the end of its MA ambitions.

“We have a strong balance sheet. We generate significant cash flow. We are going to look at opportunities on a case-by-case basis,” he told reporters.

“We also identified CHC (consumer healthcare) previously as an area where we want to sustain a leadership position and therefore you can expect us to evaluate opportunities.”

Both Pfizer and Merck KGaA are currently looking to divest consumer health businesses.

Sanofi, which expects the cost of debt to finance the deal to be around 1 percent, said Ablynx would boost long-term shareholder value, while being neutral for business earnings per share in 2018 and 2019.

The Belgian group specializes in the research of novel drugs based on so-called nanobodies found in the immune systems of llamas and alpacas, for which it partners with several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.


Sanofi is already one of Ablynx’s big pharma partners, after striking a deal in July 2017 to find new treatments for inflammatory diseases.

By buying the company outright it will now get access to Ablynx’s most promising asset, the experimental drug caplacizumab for treating the blood disease acquired thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.

Brandicourt said caplacizumab would complement Sanofi’s line-up of blood products, following the acquisition of Bioverativ and an earlier deal to obtain global rights for fitusiran from Alnylam.

Sanofi will be able to use its existing infrastructure and the recently acquired platform from Bioverativ to help to commercialize caplacizumab. It will also benefit from some of the other drugs Ablynx is working on, such as an infant anti-viral treatment, that would not have fitted within Novo Nordisk.

Berenberg analysts said Ablynx was a good fit but they estimated the deal would generate no more than a 4 percent return on invested capital, assuming caplacizumab sales of around 400 million euros by 2023.

Ablynx itself has forecast peak caplacizumab sales of 1.2 billion euros, but Sanofi said it was too early to comment.

The rare blood drug was also the main attraction for Novo Nordisk.

The Danish group has sat out previous rounds of MA in the drugs sector to focus on its core diabetes business but it now needs to find new products for its struggling smaller biopharmaceutical unit, where Ablynx would have been a good fit.

That remains a challenge for CEO Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, who took over a year ago, and has previously stated that Novo Nordisk needs external innovation to broaden its product line-up.

  • Novo Nordisk remains on hunt for biopharma deals

Chief Financial Officer Jesper Brandgaard told Reuters Novo Nordisk would continue to hunt for promising assets to boost its blood products business.

Shares in Sanofi were little changed, with pricing considerations offset by relief that Sanofi was finally taking action to improve its drugs portfolio, following its past failure to land big deals.

Sanofi lost out on buying California-based cancer specialist Medivation to Pfizer in 2016, and also missed acquiring Swiss biotech company Actelion, which was bought by Johnson Johnson last year.

Morgan Stanley and Lazard advised Sanofi on the deal while JP Morgan advised Ablynx.

($1 = 0.8055 euros)

Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta in Paris, Teis Jensen and Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Editing by Louise Heavens, Alexander Smith and Jane Merrmiman

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U.S. consumer spending rises; savings drop to 10-year low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending rose solidly in December as demand for goods and services increased, but the gain came at the expense of savings, which dropped to a 10-year low in a troubling sign for future consumption and economic growth.

Rising household wealth due to record gains on the U.S. stock market as well as higher home prices likely made Americans more confident to dip into their savings to fund purchases, economists said. Savings are now at levels last seen in December 2007, when the economy slipped into recession.

“It is true that the gains in consumer confidence as well as in the stock market and housing wealth are making Americans feel much better today than they were previously,” said Eugenio Aleman, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“That said, the U.S. consumer will need to see continuous growth in income over the year in order to be able to continue to keep up the current pace of consumption.”

The Commerce Department said on Monday that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased 0.4 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.8 percent increase in November.

Last month’s increase was in line with economists’ expectations. Spending was previously reported to have risen 0.6 percent in November.

Savings fell to $351.6 billion in December from $365.1 billion in the prior month. Savings declined to $485.8 billion in 2017, the lowest level since 2007, from $680.6 billion in 2016.

The saving rate dropped to 2.4 percent, the lowest level since September 2005, from 2.5 percent in November. It decreased to 3.4 percent in 2017, a 10-year low, from 4.9 percent in 2016.

“The continued drawdown in the (saving) rate will likely limit the extent to which consumption can continue to accelerate, all else equal,” said Michael Gapen, chief economist at Barclays in New York.

The impact of low savings on consumer spending could, however, be temporarily offset by income tax cuts which went into effect in January.


Last month, personal income rose 0.4 percent after advancing 0.3 percent in November. Income grew 3.1 percent in 2017, a pickup from the 2.4 percent rise in 2016. The data were included in the advance fourth-quarter gross domestic product report published on Friday.

Consumer spending accelerated at a 3.8 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, the fastest in three years, after rising at a 2.2 percent pace in the third quarter.

Robust consumer spending helped to offset the drag from trade and inventories on the economy, which grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter. GDP increased at a 3.2 percent pace in the third quarter.

In the wake of the strong GDP report, some economists expect the Federal Reserve to raise its economic assessment when it concludes a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday.

That could increase the probability that the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates four times this year. The Fed has forecast three rate hikes for this year.

Prices for U.S. Treasuries were trading lower after the data, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note rising to its highest level since April 2014. That helped to lift the dollar .DXY against a basket of currencies.

Stocks on Wall Street eased from record levels last week, weighed down by a drop in Apple (AAPL.O) shares after a report said the company will halve its iPhone X production target for the first quarter to around 20 million units.

Last month, spending on long-lasting goods, such as motor vehicles, increased 0.7 percent. Outlays on services rose 0.5 percent, reflecting rising demand for utilities.

While monthly inflation ticked up in December, price pressures remained benign. The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, rose 0.2 percent in December after a 0.1 percent gain in November.

The so-called core PCE increased 1.5 percent in the 12 months through December after a similar rise in the 12 months through November. The core PCE has missed the Fed’s 2 percent target since mid-2012.

“We believe inflation will firm in 2018, supported by a positive output gap, rising energy prices and a weaker U.S. dollar,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics in New York.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao

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