PG&E proposes board revamp in revised bankruptcy plan By Reuters



(Reuters) – Bankrupt California power producer PG&E Corp (N:) said on Saturday it had submitted an updated bankruptcy reorganization plan including a new board of directors and new roles aimed at addressing concerns raised by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

PG&E filed for Chapter 11 protection in January last year, citing potential liabilities in excess of $30 billion from deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 linked to its equipment.

Newsom, in a public letter to the company on Dec. 13, had rejected an earlier PG&E reorganization plan saying it lacked major changes in governance and tougher safety enforcement mechanisms mandated under the state wildfire statute.

Newsom has accused the company of putting profit ahead of maintenance of its power lines and of poorly managing the widespread blackouts PG&E used to avoid sparking wildfires during high winds.

PG&E said it believed its updated plan addressed the Newsom’s concerns.

Aside from the new board, the plan would also create two newly expanded roles of Chief Risk Officer and Chief Safety Officer, who will both report directly to the company’s chief executive, the company added in its statement.

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Trump signs executive order aimed at preventing sales of counterfeit goods from overseas By Reuters


© Reuters. U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at Drake University in Des Moines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday aimed at preventing counterfeit products from abroad from being sold to U.S. citizens who shop online using Amazon.com (NASDAQ:), Walmart (NYSE:).com or other ecommerce websites, the White House said.

Presidential trade adviser Peter Navarro urged Amazon, Walmart and digital commerce sites to take steps to ensure that the goods they sell are safe and legal.

“If they don’t, DHS will take steps to ensure they do,” he told reporters, referring to the Department of Homeland Security.

Part of the policy was aimed at preventing narcotics, like fentanyl, from entering the United States at a time when the country is fighting widespread opioid addiction, the order said.

As part of the order, the president asked DHS to “consider appropriate measures” to ensure that companies that sell products from overseas do not ship knockoffs, which they have argued can damage the U.S. economy, cost American jobs, support criminal activity and potentially harm consumers.

The president also asked DHS to draw up rules to help identify companies that were suspended from importing into the United States, and sought to evade those suspensions.

Additionally, the order asks DHS to draw up rules to identify companies that have a high rate of contraband among their shipments. Those with high rates may face more onerous inspections, the order said.

“The trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods is a scourge that causes significant harm to our workers, consumers, intellectual property owners, and economy,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

He said Trump had made intellectual property protection and enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods a priority in America’s trade relationships, with intellectual property rights a key part of a new North American trade agreement and the first phase of a U.S.-China trade deal.

A Walmart spokesman said in a statement that the company takes reports of counterfeit goods very seriously and works proactively to prevent them.

“In the rare case that someone reports what they believe is a counterfeit item, we quickly block the item and then investigate promptly,” the Walmart statement said. “Today, we only see this on a very small fraction of less than one percent of total items available for sale on Walmart.com.”

Customs and Border Protection, an arm of DHS, seized 27,599 shipments with intellectual property rights violations in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2019. If those products had been genuine, they would have had a combined retail value of over $1.5 billion, the agency said in its annual report on trade and travel.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Exxon, Chevron results augur tough year ahead, shares drop By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Chevron is seen at the company’s office in Caracas

By Jennifer Hiller

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Weaker and gas prices drove quarterly results sharply lower at Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp, pushing down shares at the two largest U.S. oil producers and signaling a weak start to the new year.

While one-time asset sales or write downs were large factors, the two companies said earnings suffered from weaker margins in crude oil, , chemicals and fuel production. They gave tepid outlooks for the near term.

“There’s no silver bullet on improving returns in a flat commodity price environment,” said Chevron Chief Executive Mike Wirth. “You roll up your sleeves and you get to work on all the little things.”

Shares of Exxon and Chevron were about 4% lower on Friday, pressured by the results and worries about global economic growth that drove the broader market lower. Exxon lost $2.67 to close at $62.12 and Chevron fell $4.26 to $107.14.

Fourth-quarter results at Exxon (N:) fell below Wall Street’s recently lowered estimate, with earnings sliding to $5.6 billion from $6 billion a year ago. Per share profit excluding one-time gain from asset sales was 41 cents, below Wall Street’s estimate of 43 cents.

Chevron (N:) swung to a loss of $6.61 billion from a year-earlier profit of $3.73 billion. The company had $10 billion in charges including writedowns on the value of oil and gas properties that were no longer economic to pump. Excluding charges, its $1.49 cent a share profit topped estimates.

This week, Royal Dutch Shell’s shares hit a three-year low after it laid out a plan to pull back on share buybacks amid slower global growth. BP PLC (L:) and Total SA (PA:) report financial results next week.

Exxon CEO Darren Woods said its natural gas, refining and chemicals businesses have suffered from prices near or at decade lows. Exxon will keep investing in new projects on the belief that a growing global middle class will drive demand for its products, Woods said, describing the margin weakness as “a short-term impact.”

Exxon and Chevron are racing in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field, to each reach 1 million barrels per day of production, but neither is anywhere near that level right now.

Exxon’s output rose 54% from a year ago while Chevron’s gained 36%.

Values are down across the oil and gas sector, prompting ongoing speculation that large companies will acquire smaller ones in the Permian Basin. Woods, though, said that the best opportunities are usually the ones “that you can generate organically.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Roku tries Fox Super Bowl play but stock loses yardage By Reuters



By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Shares of Roku tumbled 7% on Friday after the streaming video company told customers it was removing Fox channels from its platform ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast.

“On January 31, 2020, all standalone FOX channels will no longer be available on Roku streaming devices,” Roku wrote in an email to customers on Thursday. It added that its viewers could watch Fox channels on other companies’ services, including Hulu and Alphabet’s (O:) YouTube.

Shares of Fox Corp (O:), which is broadcasting the National Football League championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, fell about 1%.

The removal of Fox from its platform is related to the Jan. 31 expiration of an agreement between the two companies.

“Roku’s tactics are a poorly timed negotiating ploy, fabricating a crisis with no thought for the alarm it generated among its own customers,” Fox said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Roku did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Carriage disputes between networks and cable providers in the past have led to viewers losing the ability to watch channels. Last July, millions of DirecTV subscribers temporarily lost access to CBS programming in over a dozen cities.

While viewership has declined in recent years, the Super Bowl remains the single most watched U.S. event of the year, making it a potentially high-value pawn in contract negotiations.

Riding a wave of investor enthusiasm over the consumer shift from cable television to streaming, Roku’s stock has surged almost 800% since its initial public offering in 2017. Friday’s sell-off reduces Roku’s 12-month return to 172% and leaves it at a level last seen in November.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Bayer considers new tactic in Roundup settlement talks By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Logo of Bayer AG at a plant of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal

By Ludwig Burger, Patricia Weiss and Arno Schuetze

(Reuters) – As Bayer AG (DE:) tries to settle U.S. lawsuits claiming that its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, the company is considering a proposal that would bar plaintiffs’ lawyers involved in the litigation from advertising for new clients, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Bayer has said it is engaged in mediation to resolve the litigation, which has hit its share price since it acquired Roundup as part of its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto (NYSE:) in 2018.

The company has denied claims that Roundup or its active ingredient glyphosate causes cancer, saying decades of independent studies have shown the product is safe for human use.

The person said that Bayer believes an agreement with plaintiffs’ attorneys to ban advertising would limit the company’s future legal exposure since the “vast majority” of U.S. law firms that would bring such claims would be bound by the agreement.

Bayer declined to comment.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Thursday that Bayer was considering stopping retail sales of glyphosate while continuing to serve farmers, because the bulk of plaintiffs are private users. Bayer did not comment to Reuters on this report.

The company has ruled out putting a cancer warning on the weedkiller because market regulators such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have deemed it save to use, but that means lawsuits could keeping piling in.

In October, Bayer largely blamed law firms’ TV ad campaigns for the more than doubling of U.S. plaintiffs seeking damages to 42,700 within just three months.

A provision such as the one the company is considering could result in “dramatically fewer claims” so that the litigation is no longer a “big drag on Bayer’s balance sheet,” said David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School and expert in mass torts, who is not involved in the litigation.

In January, court-appointed mediator Ken Feinberg put the number of Roundup cancer claimants at more than 75,000, which includes those that have not been filed. Bayer said the claims it has been served with in court were below 50,000.

While such a provision is unusual, there is precedent.

As part of a 2013 settlement between Merck & Co and plaintiffs claiming the company’s Fosamax osteoporosis drug caused jaw injury, lawyers pledged that they did not intend to “solicit claims” that arose after the settlement.

Perry Weitz of Weitz & Luxenberg, one of the leading plaintiffs’ firms involved in the Roundup litigation, criticized an idea to bar firms from advertising for future clients.

“A company cannot ask a lawyer to enter an agreement to restrict his practice in the future,” he said.

He said there had not been “serious discussions about future cases,” but declined to elaborate.

Michael Miller of The Miller Firm, another major party in the talks, said that “it is possible, if done correctly, to manage the exposure to future claims.” He declined to elaborate. Three other plaintiffs firms who have brought the bulk of the claims – Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman; Andrus Wagstaff PC; Holland Law Firm – declined to comment. Moore Law Group PLLC did not respond to requests for comment.

Bayer’s shares have lost about 20% of their value since August 2018 when a California jury in the first lawsuit over Roundup found Monsanto should have warned of the alleged cancer risks. Bayer has lost two more jury verdicts and is appealing all three rulings.





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