Business & Tech


Uber CEO backtracks on comment that likened Khashoggi murder to a car accident


Uber CEO backtracks on comment that likened Khashoggi murder to a car accident

Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, drew a backlash Sunday after calling the murder of Jamal Khashoggi a “mistake” by the Saudi government and comparing the killing to the accidental death of a woman hit by a self-driving car, remarks he quickly walked back. “It’s a serious mistake,” Khosrowshahi said in the interview with Axios on HBO, which aired Sunday, after he was asked about the brutal killing last year by Saudi operatives of Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist. “We’ve made mistakes too, right, with self driving, and we stopped driving, and we’re recovering from that mistake. So I think that people make mistakes.” Khosrowshahi retreated from his comments last week — shortly after the interview was filmed but days before it aired — first in a phone call and then in an emailed statement. “I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” he said in an e-mail to Axios on Thursday. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.” Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government who wrote for The Washington Post and was a resident of Virginia, was brutally murdered in October 2018 after he entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the journalist’s killing. — NEW YORK TIMES BIOTECH

Amgen cutting almost 150 jobs in Cambridge

Biotech giant Amgen is trimming nearly 150 jobs from its Cambridge location as the company ends its neuroscience research and development efforts. The Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based drug company informed state officials last week that it would cut 149 jobs at the Cambridge site. Amgen R&D chief David Reese told investors on Oct. 29 that the company is ending its neuroscience research – with the exception of programs centered on neuro inflammation – because of the challenges inherent in developing drugs for major neurologic diseases. Spokeswoman Jessica Akopyan said 180 jobs will be eliminated in total, through the middle of next year, at the company’s Cambridge, Thousand Oaks, and San Francisco locations. — JON CHESTO


Disney launches its Disney Plus service

Disney sprinkled its pixie dust on the streaming arena Tuesday. Its Disney Plus service debuts with an arsenal of marquee franchises including Marvel and Star Wars, original series with a built-in fan base and a cheap price to boot. The $7-a-month service is poised to set the bar for other services like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock to follow. Major media companies behind hit TV shows and movies are seeking to siphon the subscription revenue now going to Netflix and other streaming giants. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Chinese conglomerate buys British Steel, saving 4,000 jobs


Chinese conglomerate Jingye has agreed to buy British Steel, in a rescue deal that potentially protects some 4,000 jobs and safeguards a strategic asset as Britain prepares to leave the European Union. Exact financial terms were not immediately disclosed Monday, and it was not clear what incentives might have been offered by the British government to secure the solvency of the firm, which accounts for about a third of the country’s steel production. British Steel Ltd had been ordered into liquidation in May as it struggled with industry-wide troubles and chronic uncertainty around Brexit. The BBC reported earlier that an agreement in principle had been made for the 70 million-pound ($90 million) purchase. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Acting head of CBS to get $100m in severance

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CBS Corp. acting chief executive Joe Ianniello is in line for a hefty haul when Viacom Inc. completes its proposed merger with the broadcast network. While he won’t get to lead the combined entity, he’ll collect $100 million severance and remain chief of CBS with a new contract entitling him to tens of millions of dollars more. The arrangement illustrates the extent of CBS’s effort to persuade Ianniello, a 22-year company veteran, to support the tie-up without having a shot at the top job. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Amazon to launch new grocery store brand separate from Whole Foods plans to launch a new supermarket brand distinct from the Whole Foods Market chain the company acquired two years ago, a sign of the retail giant’s hunger for a slice of the grocery market beyond high-end organic food. The company has posted four job listings for ‘‘Amazon’s first grocery store’’ in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the listings and said the store would open in 2020. The brand will be distinct from Whole Foods and will have a conventional checkout line, unlike the company’s cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores, she said.


Adidas to close experimental factories

Adidas AG plans to idle “speed factories” in the United States and Germany, redeploying techniques developed there to suppliers in Asia, where the vast majority of its products are already made. The decision is a setback for anyone who hoped that projects like the speed factories represented the dawn of a new era of manufacturing in Europe and North America. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


WW unveils new program in time for post-holiday signups

WW International on Monday rolled out its long-awaited new program, myWW, today ahead of the post-holiday diet season, offering members a customized approach to weight management by matching them to one of three plans based on a personal assessment. The new plans are built on WW’s SmartPoints system and ZeroPoint foods, and are tailored toward helping individuals lose weight after accounting for specifics such as eating habits and activity rates. The company, formerly known as Weight Watchers, began to rebrand away from a weight loss company to a holistic wellness company in 2018 under the leadership of new CEO Mindy Grossman. The launch of myWW comes just in time for WW’s key subscriber season. The company generally experiences its highest subscriber rates in the first quarter due to the post-holiday diet season and rates generally fall off through the rest of the year. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Keystone pipeline restarted after spill


The Keystone pipeline has been restarted nearly two weeks after it leaked an estimated 383,000 gallons of oil in North Dakota. TC Energy says the pipeline ‘‘returned to service’’ Sunday after approval of a repair and restart plan by the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The agency ordered the company last week to keep the pipeline shut down until corrective action was taken, including sending an affected portion of the pipe to an independent laboratory for testing. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Wildfire victims want to be fully compensated
for losses

PG&E Corp. wildfire victims have filed a new lawsuit arguing they must be fully repaid for the losses of their homes and businesses before fire insurers are as part of the utility’s bankruptcy. The case takes aim at an $11 billion settlement agreement between bankrupt PG&E and fire insurers, who are allied with the utility and shareholders against wildfire victims and PG&E noteholders in the Chapter 11 case. An official committee appointed to represent fire victims is asking the judge overseeing PG&E’s bankruptcy to rule that under California law, the victims must be “made whole” before the insurers can be paid. — BLOOMBERG NEWS