Business & Tech

TALKING POINTS

Microsoft to invest $1.1b in Mexico

INTERNATIONAL

Microsoft to invest $1.1b in Mexico

Microsoft announced a five-year, $1.1 billion investment plan in Mefor xico on Thursday to develop training programs and increase the availability of cloud computing services. Company executives said the money will be used to establish a regional data center, as part of a program Microsoft calls “Innovating for Mexico.” Some of the money will be used to help monitor endangered species. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the investment showed the confidence investors have in Mexico following the ratification of the US-MexicoCanada free trade agreement. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TECHNOLOGY

LogMeIn cuts about 300 jobs

LogMeIn Inc., a Boston-based maker of software that manages remote access for companies, laid off about 300 workers last week, including almost 70 in Boston. Approximately 8 percent of the company’s employees lost their jobs, the spokesman said. The company has about 800 employees in Boston, and according to a December public filing, 3,974 full-time workers in all. Employees whose jobs were eliminated were notified last week and offered an opportunity to apply for open positions within LogMeIn, the company said. Some have already done that, the spokesman said, but he did not specify how many. The layoffs come two months after the company agreed to be purchased by two private equity firms — Francisco Partners and Evergreen Coast Capital Corporation, an affiliate of Elliott Management Corp. — in a deal valued at $4.3 billion. — ANISSA GARDIZY

FORECASTS

World’s biggest shipping company expects coronavirus to hurt earnings

The world’s largest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, said Thursday it expects the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China to hurt its 2020 earnings. The company said in its annual earnings report that the 2020 outlook “is subject to significant uncertainties and impacted” by the coronavirus outbreak, “which has significantly lowered visibility on what to expect in 2020.’’ “As factories in China are closed for longer than usual in connection with the Chinese New Year and as a result of the Coronavirus, we expect a weak start to the year.” China is a key market for the shipper. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

MORTGAGES

Rates rise slightly

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Mortgage rates rose slightly this week but they remain far below year-ago levels, which has provided a boost to home sales. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan rose to 3.49 percent from 3.47 percent last week. That is down from 4.35 percent a year ago. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage also increased slightly, to 2.99 percent from 2.97 percent. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

INTERNATIONAL

Police discover underground cigarette factory in Spain

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Police have dismantled what they say is the Europe Union’s first clandestine underground cigarette factory — 13 feet under a horse stable in southern Spain. Statements Thursday from Spanish police and Europol said 20 people from Britain, Ukraine, and Lithuania were arrested. Europol said beds and living quarters for the workers were found in the bunker factory in southern Málaga province. Access to the plant, operating since 2019, was concealed by a cargo container, police said. The factory produced 3.500 cigarettes an hour, police said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

TECHNOLOGY

Apple may give rival apps more prominence on devices

Apple Inc. is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products. The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party Web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

CURRENCY

Britain’s new 20-pound note swaps out an economist for an artist

Britain’s new 20-pound note went into circulation Thursday — one that replaces the image of a pioneering economist with an artist. The polymer banknote replaces a paper predecessor bearing the image of 18th-century economist Adam Smith. The new version features a self-portrait of artist J.M.W. Turner alongside his painting “The Fighting Temeraire.” The painting depicts the Royal Navy ship HMS Temeraire, which helped win the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, being hauled away by a tug at the end of its life.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENTERTAINMENT

ViacomCBS to launch a new streaming service

ViacomCBS is planning a new streaming service that will combine the existing CBS All Access service with Paramount movies and shows from Viacom channels such as MTV and BET. The move had been expected since CBS and Viacom combined in August to better compete in the increasingly competitive streaming environment. CBS was one of the first media companies to launch its own streaming service. Its $6-a-month service CBS All Access includes original programming such as new “Star Trek” series and a revival of “The Twilight Zone.” The service also has old and current broadcast shows.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOCIAL MEDIA

Sharing or liking right-wing or anti-Semitic material could be crime, Swiss court says

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Using Facebook Inc.’s “like” or “share” button to distribute right-wing or anti-Semitic material could be a crime if the information ends up being circulated to a third party, Switzerland’s top court ruled. The Swiss Federal Court upheld a fine imposed on a man for “repeated defamation” by a Zurich court, ruling that “activating both ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons in Facebook can improve visibility and thereby contribute to the dissemination within the social network of marked content.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNET

EU warns Google about privacy protections

Google should move to limit any privacy and data protection risks before it seeks European Union approval to take over health tracker Fitbit Inc., European privacy authorities warned Thursday. Data regulators are “ready to contribute” advice to the EU’s merger authority, according to the statement. National data agencies can fine companies for breaches and privacy violations but don’t have a role in approving deals. The European Commission, which will look at the transaction, usually focuses on the economic effect of combining firms and has never probed how a company’s acquisition of more data might affect privacy rights. Google said it plans “to work constructively with regulators to answer their questions” about the deal and won’t sell personal information to anyone. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

HOTELS

Hilton returns to the Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Hilton was a landmark of the gambling mecca for decades. Now, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is bringing the brand back to the Strip. Hilton has agreed to operate three hotels as part of Genting Group’s Resorts World Las Vegas, slated to open in the summer of 2021, according to a statement from the companies. The deal calls for a 1,700-room hotel dubbed the Las Vegas Hilton, a 1,500-room Conrad, and a smaller property designed for high-rollers, helping Hilton cater to the growing ranks of loyalty program members who view the city as an important destination. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

PIZZA

Domino’s earnings up despite delivery competition

Domino’s Pizza delivered better-than-expected results in the fourth quarter despite increasing competition from food delivery companies like DoorDash. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company — which has 17,000 stores worldwide — said Thursday that its fourth quarter earnings rose 16 percent to $129.3 million. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $3.13 per share, beating Wall Street’s forecast of $2.98 per share, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Domino’s US same-store sales — or sales at locations open at least a year — rose 3.4 percent for the quarter, which also beat analysts’ forecast for 2.4 percent growth. Still, it was the fifth consecutive quarter that Domino’s same-store sales were lower than the prior year. Domino’s is rapidly building new stores to crowd out competitors like Papa John’s and ensure quick delivery times. — ASSOCIATED PRESS