15.1 C
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Restaurant-and-arcade chain Dave & Buster’s has warned it could lay off more than 2,500 employees as the coronavirus keeps its gaming halls closed. The Dallas-based company has filed notices in at least 10 states indicating temporary layoffs imposed in March — when the pandemic forced all its locations to close — would become permanent later this year, records show. The cuts could affect more than 800 workers at six New York venues, including locations near Times Square and on Staten Island, who are set to be axed on or after Dec. 8, according to state Department of Labor notices dated Sept. 8. The layoffs would take effect starting Nov. 8 in other states such as Michigan and New Jersey, records show. But Dave & Buster’s isn’t planning to shut down any of the locations for good, spokeswoman Mary Kathryn Flores said. The company plans to rehire affected workers once state and local officials let the arcades reopen, she said. “We regret the hardship to our team members, but unfortunately we are not able to control when governments permit businesses like ours to open,” Flores told The Post in an email Friday, saying the company issued the legally required notices because of the “indefinite timeframe” for reopening in certain places. “If the stores are allowed to reopen before the layoff timeframe in the notices, our intent is to rehire as many of our team members as guest demand will allow,” Flores said. Flores said Dave & Buster’s has so far reopened 91 of its 136 arcades, where guests can sip beer and munch on buffalo wings between games of Skee Ball. The closures led the chain’s comparable-store sales to plunge 87 percent in the quarter ending Aug. 2, while revenues tumbled 85 percent to $50.8 million, it said last week. The COVID crisis has also hammered Dave & Buster’s kid-friendly analog, Chuck E. Cheese, whose parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June as it grappled with suffering sales and hefty debts. Dave & Buster’s warned in a securities filing that it could also be forced into bankruptcy if it can’t reach a deal with its lenders, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The chain’s stock price slid more than 26 percent Thursday following that report. But the shares recovered Friday after two analysts reportedly upgraded their ratings for Dave & Buster’s as the bankruptcy concerns had already been disclosed. The stock climbed as much as about 17.5 percent to $16.59 and was recently trading at $16.02. “We are optimistic that fundamentals can continue to improve as additional units reopen and COVID concerns (hopefully) dissipate,” Raymond James analyst Brian Vaccaro said, according to Bloomberg.
Shares of Sequoia-backed startup Unity Software jumped 44.2 percent in their debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, signaling sustained demand for new stocks. The company’s stock opened at $75 per share, giving the firm a market value of $19.75 billion. The Silicon Valley startup on Thursday raised $1.3 billion in its IPO, after pricing 25 million shares at $52 apiece, much above its upwardly revised price range of $44 to $48 per share. It is the second $1 billion-plus US software IPO this week to price above the targeted range after data warehouse company Snowflake raised more than $3 billion in the largest US listing so far this year. Unity’s software platform is widely used by game developers, artists, architects and filmmakers to create, run and monetize interactive 3D content. “The company’s [IPO] timing is good. Not only have US market indexes returned to records, but one of Unity’s top competitors, Epic Games, is also challenging Apple in court,” said Michael Underhill, chief investment officer for Capital Innovations, which invests in IPOs. Last year, more than half of the top 1,000 games in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store were built using Unity’s software platform, Underhill added. For Unity’s IPO, the lead underwriting banks, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, used an online system to take indications of interest from investors, with the aim of getting a more accurate gauge of demand. Orders for an IPO are typically made over the phone. Investment firm Sequoia Capital is Unity’s largest shareholder with a 24.1 percent stake, while private equity company Silver Lake owns 18.2 percent, according to a filing.
The “pernicious and persistent” impact of long-outlawed policies like “redlining” blacks out of white neighborhoods continues to influence the ability of minority families to amass wealth, and requires a deeper look at how those longstanding problems might be addressed, Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic said on Friday. Even as laws have moved forward to forbid discriminatory practices, “progress has been incremental,” with the median white household today holding 10 times the assets of a similar black household, Bostic said in webcast remarks to a conference on Racial Justice and Finance hosted by the Atlanta Fed and Princeton University. “This ratio is not much changed from what it was more than 100 years ago.” “Something more fundamental must happen,” Bostic said, encouraging researchers and policymakers to “look ‘under the hood’ at our institutions to see and truly understand their design and its implications…We can then find more creative and accurate ways to incorporate race into our models” and “truly create meaningful and lasting change.” He did not offer specific policy suggestions, but noted how the exclusion of farm and domestic workers from Depression-era social insurance programs excluded a disproportionate number of blacks from benefits, while both redlining and other housing policies undermined the accumulation of wealth. That, and other policies, have compounded over time into a persistent wealth gap. Bostic, the first black person named president of one of the Fed’s 12 regional banks, has been among the most outspoken Fed officials in an evolving conversation at the central bank about economic inequality.
Online merchants have been skirting Amazon’s policies to sell sketchy muscle-building drugs used by athletes and bodybuilders, a new report says. Some 66 listings for peptides — substances that help build muscle and heal injuries — appeared on Amazon in August and September, apparently slipping through the company’s ban on injectable drugs, according to an investigation by The Markup, a tech news website. Pro baseball players, bodybuilders and Olympians have turned to peptides to recover from injuries or gain an advantage over their competitors, the outlet reported Thursday. But several types have been branded “doping drugs” by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the varieties found on Amazon haven’t been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, according to the story. Amazon has allowed merchants to sell them for scientific use — a loophole sellers appeared to exploit by claiming in their listings that the drugs were being offered for “research” or “lab” purposes, The Markup reported. But reviews and questions attached to several listings made clear that customers were actually taking them, the report says. They’re reportedly sold by the vial as a powder that people mix with water and inject into their bodies. “The thought of otherwise young healthy individuals taking such products is extremely distressing,” Amy Eichner of the US Anti-Doping Agency told The Markup. “Messing with hormones can have myriad long term effects including infertility, changes in growth rates, suppression of your own natural hormones systems, and probably many other unknown side effects.” Amazon said it has taken down all the products that The Markup identified and that it would no longer allow peptides on its platform “out of an abundance of caution.” “We do not sanction customer misuse or abuse of products,” Amazon said in a statement. “… If products that are against our policies are found on our site, we immediately remove the listing, take action on the bad actor, and further improve our systems.”
Ice cream manufacturer Blue Bell Creameries has been hit a $17.25 million fine for causing a massive listeria outbreak in 2015. The fine, issued by a federal court judge in Texas, is the largest criminal penalty ever for a food safety case, the Department of Justice said in announcing the unappetizing fine on Thursday. “The American consumers must be able to trust that the foods they purchase are safe to eat,” said acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the DOJ’s civil division. “The sentence imposed today sends a clear message to food manufacturers that the Department of Justice will take appropriate actions when contaminated food products endanger consumers.” In May the Brenham, Texas-based creamery, founded in 1907, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of distributing adulterated ice cream products. The Food and Drug Administration in 2015 found sanitation issues at the company’s Brenham and Broken Arrow, Texas facilities, including problems with the hot water supply that was used to clean equipment. It also found that “insanitary water” was dripping into the product mix, according to the DOJ’s statement on Thursday. Blue Bell’s former president, Paul Kruse, has previously been charged with seven felony counts for his alleged efforts to conceal the contamination from customers.  The agency said Blue Bell, which describes its product as “ice cream the old-fashioned way, with the freshest and finest ingredients,” has taken significant steps to improve its sanitation process since then. “Today’s court action closes a difficult chapter in Blue Bell’s history,” company officials said in a statement on Thursday. “We are a new, different and better Blue Bell. We learned hard lessons and turned them into determination to make the safest, most delicious ice cream available, with upgraded production facilities, training, safety procedures, and environmental and product testing programs.”
The Trump Administration’s long-threatened TikTok ban is here, but don’t plan a funeral for the popular video app just yet. Beginning Sunday, both Apple and Google will be forced to stop making TikTok available to download on their app stores. Likewise, TikTok will not be able to update its software after Sunday. Nevertheless, users who download TikTok before the deadline will still be free to use it under the Trump administration’s order — a fact that has sparked a tidal wave of downloads, according to reports. A full TikTok ban will only arrive if the app’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, can’t reach an agreement to sell its US business to a “very American company,” as ordered by President Trump. That result would force TikTok to completely shut down in the US on Nov. 12. TikTok this week came to terms with California tech giant Oracle — headed by billionaire Trump supporter Larry Ellison — in a deal that would see the cloud-computing giant take a 20-percent stake. Walmart would also partner with Oracle under the proposed deal, which is still being examined by White House officials. There is still time for President Trump to give his blessing to the deal before Sunday, which would allow the download ban to be avoided. The Trump Administration has gone after TikTok because of concerns that China’s authoritarian government could obtain the sensitive user data collected by the app and use it to spy on Americans. TikTok has aggressively denied that it has ever shared data with Beijing, and has said that it would not do so if asked. In a Friday statement, a TikTok spokesperson said that the company was “disappointed” about the decision, reiterated that TikTok is “committed to protecting [user] privacy and safety” and said that the company would continue its legal challenge to Trump’s order. “In our proposal to the US Administration, we’ve already committed to unprecedented levels of additional transparency and accountability well beyond what other apps are willing to do, including third-party audits, verification of code security, and US government oversight of US data security,” TikTok said.
Goldman Sachs has seen two employees test positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks — just as the megabank has begun to prod workers back into the office, sources told The Post. One of the cases appears to have affected Goldman’s trading operation, and the bank has sent some workers in that division home to quarantine, sources said. The other works at Goldman’s back-office division, known to Goldman insiders as “The Federation,” sources said. The two workers are on different floors. Goldman Chief Executive David Solomon and his executive leadership team have recently begun to accelerate their “return to office” plan, which aims to get staff out of their sweatpants and back into their cubicles after six months of pandemic-enforced working from home. On Sept. 9, Goldman circulated a memo to all staff alerting them to a rotational plan that would put limited amounts of people at desks to maximize social distancing. In that memo, Solomon alluded to the possibility of future positive cases, writing “The future remains uncertain, requiring us to stay nimble and pivot as needed.” One of the positive tests occurred before the Sept. 9 memo. Neither case appears to have been contracted at Goldman’s headquarters at 200 West St. in lower Manhattan, and there have been no other positive cases related to the two infected workers, according to a source close to the situation. The news echoes a similar announcement earlier this week from JPMorgan Chase, which notified workers in its equity trading group that one of their co-workers had tested positive for the deadly virus just days after telling senior trading executives they needed to return to their offices on Sept. 21. Wall Street is broadly reckoning with how to safely get people back at their desks, and that is especially true of traders. Successful trading floors thrive on speed, and many big banks have spent the last decade implementing risk and compliance infrastructure to their trading floors that are impossible to replicate with people working remotely. A Goldman spokesperson indicated that the $2 trillion bank’s plan to get people back in the office will proceed. Our people’s safety is our first priority and we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure our workplaces remain safe for those who choose to return,” the spokesman said.
A federal judge blasted bankrupt car-rental firm Hertz’s proposal to pay top executives millions of dollars in bonuses as she shot down the plan Thursday. US Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath directed the beleaguered company to revise its “offensive” proposal offering up to $14.6 million in bonuses to Hertz employees, including $5.4 million for senior executives. Walrath noted that Hertz already made about $16 million in so-called retention payments to employees before the Florida-based firm filed for bankruptcy in May. “It seems offensive to give senior executives bonuses” when some of them got extra money just a few months ago, Walrath said during a Thursday hearing, according to Bloomberg News. Walrath told Hertz’s lawyers to change the goals company employees would have to meet to receive the new bonuses. The proposal would give the payments to 14 senior executives and roughly 295 managers, Bloomberg reported. “More has to be done to show why employees who got retention bonuses and agreed to stay with the company are not going to do their best to see that the company survives and succeeds,” Walrath said during the hearing, according to the news service. Florida-based Hertz did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. Hertz filed for Chapter 11 in May as the coronavirus pandemic crippled global demand for travel. The company made headlines in June with a controversial plan to raise bankruptcy financing by selling $500 million in potentially worthless stock. Hertz scrapped the plan after the Securities and Exchange Commission raised concerns about it. With Post wires
The owner of New York Sports Clubs has set aside $850,000 to compensate angry gym rats who were charged monthly membership fees while its facilities were closed. Town Sports, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, had initially allocated just $225,000 to repay customers for such fees, a lawyer for the company said in court on Thursday. But a tidal wave of outrage on social media convinced Town Sports to increase the amount, according to a Wall Street Journal report. In April, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office reached a deal with the company to stop charging customers and to credit them for the time they couldn’t use their gyms. Town Sports also agreed to allow members to cancel their memberships online — the company previously required customers to do so in person — without incurring penalties. But that didn’t stop the company, which also owns Lucille Roberts,  from charging customers monthly dues over the past six months while many of its gyms were closed and even after some members canceled their memberships, customers say. Gyms in New York were allowed to reopen this month.   “@NYSC I’ve been requesting to CANCEL my gym membership since MARCH. My account has been frozen since MARCH and you decided to CHARGE ME for the month of SEPTEMBER. You closed my gym and fired my trainer without notice to either party. This is absolutely disgusting,” customer Kim Jay tweeted earlier this week.   Others complained they couldn’t reach an NYSC rep to help them cancel their membership. “@NYSC every location I phone that is open won’t take my call, your 800 number isn’t taking calls, my home location is closed — I’ve been charged for Sept. without notice and I want to cancel my membership immediately. You’re not being transparent about your reopening or charges,” Lucy Ruth Cummins tweeted last week. James’ office told the Wall Street Journal it was looking into the new claims as part of its continuing investigation. The company did not immediately respond for comment.
The world’s largest producer of disposable gloves saw its profits explode as the coronavirus pandemic sparked a worldwide hand-hygiene frenzy. Malaysia-based Top Glove posted after-tax profits of about $459 million in its last fiscal year — a massive, 417-percent spike from the prior year — thanks to “a global surge in demand for gloves on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The company also raked in record revenues of more than $1.7 billion in the year ending Aug. 31, a 51 percent year-over-year jump, while it sales volumes climbed 17 percent, it said Thursday. “We are very pleased to be able to deliver such strong results and even more so, to be in a position to help protect and save lives in Malaysia and all over the world with our gloves,” Tan Sri Dr Lim Wee Chai, Top Glove’s executive chairman, said in a statement. Top Glove took a hit in July when US Customs and Border Protection officials issued an order barring imports from two of its subsidiaries that allegedly used forced labor practices. The so-called withhold release order was still active as of Friday, according to the agency’s website. Despite the sanction, Top Glove said its monthly orders have surged about 150 percent from to pre-pandemic levels. The company also said it was in talks with US officials and “making good progress” toward having the order lifted. CBP has said it did not expect the order to significantly affect total US imports of disposable rubber gloves. Top Glove — which also makes face masks, condoms and dental dams — expects business to keep booming given that the deadly COVID-19 virus remains a constant threat. The company expects demand for gloves to grow by 25 percent in 2021 and another 15 percent in a “post-COVID” landscape. “Notwithstanding news of several promising vaccines in the pipeline, glove demand remains at a supernormal level, as gloves will still be required even when a vaccine becomes available,” the Top Glove said in a news release. With Post wires
Even the queen is taking a financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Part of Queen Elizabeth’s UK real estate portfolio lost $716 million in value last fiscal year as the COVID-19 crisis exacerbated existing struggles for its tenants. The Crown Estate — which oversees the monarch’s vast holdings in London and other parts of the country — took the loss in its regional property segment, which includes shopping centers and business parks around the country. The drop stemmed from “the challenging operational markets faced by our retail customers during the year, an issue which has been accelerated by COVID-19,” the estate said in its annual report released Friday. The total value of the estate’s portfolio fell by 1.2 percent to 13.4 billion British pounds, or roughly $17.4 billion, according to the report. The report only covers the estate’s fiscal year that ended March 31, less than two weeks after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered pubs and other businesses to close in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly virus. But the estate said the economic disruption and resulting drop in rental receipts have led it to stagger its payments to the UK treasury. It expects its regional and central London portfolios to take a significant hit going forward “as a result of COVID-19 as well as disruption from the increase in online retail,” the report says. Despite the financial challenges, the estate said it turned a roughly $447 million net revenue profit in the fiscal year, up 0.4 percent from the prior year. “Many of our real estate markets were already facing long term structural challenges, which have now been accelerated as a result of COVID-19,” Crown Estate chief executive Dan Labbad said in a statement. “Against this backdrop, and the ongoing economic uncertainty, we have delivered a result for the year which reflects the underlying strength of our portfolio and the active approach of our team.”
The Aliro project is one of many developments in the Sutherland Shire which also includes the Woolooware Bay Town Centre by developers Aoyuan International and Capital Bluestone. That includes new commercial suites, to cater for more people who are opting to work closer to home. Aliro's chief executive Daniel Wise, said Aliro had been fielding strong interest from a range of leading global and national brands keen to secure a position on the 12.4 hectare site. These have come from a range of uses including logistics, education, corporate office, recreational, food and beverage and multiple film production studios. "The estate will create a strong employment hub within the Shire," Mr Wise said. "Importantly, the creation of this significant employment hub will provide an opportunity for businesses to attract and retain a mix of different local skills." The estate will create a strong employment hub within the Shire Aliro CEO Daniel Wise Mr Wise said that given the scale and strategic location of the site, it represented a generational and industry-creating opportunity to secure significant international investment for Sydney and NSW. "Together with the appropriate government support and investment, we anticipate creating thousands of direct and indirect