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GE’s CEO saw his salary climb in 2019 as its stock rose


INTERNATIONAL

French regulators fine Apple more than $1b over pricing deals

French regulators fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) on Monday for striking deals to keep prices high, in the biggest-ever such sanction by France’s Competition Authority. The agency said Apple and top re-sellers agreed to align prices with Apple’s own pricing for its iPads and some other products. The deals did not concern iPhones. Calling the fine “disheartening,” Apple defended its operations in a statement saying its “investment and innovation supports over 240,000 jobs across the country.” Apple added that: “It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries.” Two “premium” French Apple resellers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were also fined a total of 139 million euros ($155 million). The competition authority said Apple and the re-sellers agreed not to compete. “Apple abusively exploited’’ distributors’ dependence on the tech giant, the authority wrote, and “prevented competition among different Apple distribution channels.” And that, in turn, hurt consumers. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENERGY

PG&E says it would allow more state control if it has problems in the future

Pacific Gas & Electric on Monday won court approval to raise $23 billion to help pay its bills over destructive California wildfires after Governor Gavin Newsom dropped his opposition to a financing package designed to help the nation’s largest utility get out of bankruptcy. The milestone reached during an unusual court hearing held by phone moves PG&E closer to its goal of emerging from one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in US history by June 30. Newsom has said he fears P&E is taking on too much debt to be able to afford an estimated $40 billion in equipment upgrades needed to reduce the chances of its electricity grid igniting destructive wildfires in the future. The utility’s outdated system triggered a series of catastrophic wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed so many people and burned so many homes and businesses that the company had to file for bankruptcy early last year. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENERGY

BP says it can cut spending by 20 percent this year if oil market tanks

BP can slash its spending by 20 percent this year as the oil market goes into free fall, with some US operations likely to get less investment. The London-based oil major’s shares have fallen more than 30 percent since the OPEC+ alliance broke down after a showdown between Saudi Arabia and Russia, triggering a price war as he kingdom vowed to send a flood of cheap crude to Europe. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Amazon hiring as virus fears boost orders

Amazon said Monday that it needs to hire 100,000 people across the United States to keep up with a crush of orders as the coronavirus spreads and keeps more people at home, shopping online. The online retailer said it will also temporarily raise pay by $2 an hour through the end of April for hourly employees. That includes workers at its warehouses, delivery centers, and Whole Foods grocery stores, all of whom make at least $15 an hour. Employees in the United Kingdom and other European countries will get a similar raise. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENERGY

Aramco says it will still pay shareholders $75 billion

Even with oil prices slumping, Saudi Aramco said it still intends to give at least $75 billion to shareholders this year. The world’s biggest company by market value, which listed in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh in December, will pay the dividends on a quarterly basis, it said in its 2019 financial results released on Sunday. Capital expenditure will be cut to between $25 billion and $30 billion this year, from $32.8 billion in 2019. But the firm would still need at least $100 billion to meet its dividend and capex commitments alone, almost matching its 2019 payments. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Walmart’s plan to sell UK supermarket chain on track

Walmart Inc. is proceeding with the planned sale of UK supermarket chain Asda after attracting initial bids from three buyout firms, even as tightening credit threatens to hamper debt-fueled dealmaking, people familiar with the matter said. Apollo Global Management Inc., Lone Star Funds, and TDR Capital each submitted first-round offers for Asda and have been invited to join the next round of bidding, the people said. A deal could value the business at more than 7 billion pounds ($8.6 billion), according to one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNATIONAL

London’s love for paper documents creates potential problems

Since Victorian times, London’s traders have used paper documents to track metal flowing in and out of warehouses, even as the rest of the world went digital. Now the coronavirus is posing a threat unlike any in living memory. With several European countries in lockdown and the number of cases in the UK rising fast, traders worry how they’ll access the London Metal Exchange’s paper-based filing system for registering copper, nickel, and aluminum inventories if the city is forced to close. Every day, warehouse agents in London print ownership certificates for metal in warehouses as far away as South Korea. Couriers zip the documents, often for inventories worth millions of dollars, across the city to a office a few blocks from Liverpool Street, where they’re stored away in the basement. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

WEALTH

In these turbulent times, the rich turn to art and diamonds

Last Monday, as oil prices dropped 30 percent and equities plummeted, a New York client of Fine Art Group requested financing against a $10 million painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Days later, with equities tumbling to the largest single-day decline since 1987, a major London gallery called for fast capital to opportunistically buy a contemporary art collection. A Swiss client, meanwhile, asked for a loan against $30 million worth of rare diamonds. The rise in activity comes as the spread of coronavirus has created the wildest market swings since the financial crisis. Some clients want to free up cash for investment opportunities, lenders said. Others to offset the cost of margin calls after borrowing against stock holdings. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



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