Pfizer: Partnering with Universities
The National Institutes of Health is pressing drugmakers to follow Pfizer's (PFE) lead and let government-backed scientists experiment with chemical compounds the companies failed to turn into drugs. Pfizer agreed last May to pay Washington University in St. Louis $22.5 million to find new applications for its discarded molecules. The pharmaceutical giant has signed similar agreements, worth up to $100 million, with seven New York medical schools. Pfizer (PFE) will share intellectual property rights and revenues with the schools on a case-by-case basis. NIH Director Francis Collins says he eventually hopes to steer his agency into similar partnerships.
Google: Offering a Little More Privacy
Google (GOOG) on Jan. 24 released a tool that lets users of its Chrome Web browser stop advertisers from monitoring their Web-surfing habits. The tool, called Keep My Opt-Outs, only blocks ad tracking by companies that offer opt-outs through industry self-regulation programs. Microsoft (MSFT) and Mozilla also plan to add anti-monitoring features to their browsers. The Federal Trade Commission issued a report last year calling for a do-not-track option, in response to consumer concerns about privacy.
Toyota: Another Global Recall
Toyota (TM) on Jan. 26 recalled about 1.7 million vehicles globally for defects in fuel lines and pressure sensors, and spare tire carriers. The recalls include 1.28 million Voxy, Noah, and Isis minivans and RAV4 sport-utility vehicles in Japan, 245,000 Lexus luxury cars in the U.S., and 135,000 Avensis sedans in Europe. Since September 2009, Toyota has also recalled over 8 million cars with defects linked to unintended acceleration. Last year, Toyota was the only large automaker to post a sales decline in the U.S., historically its most profitable market.
Nielsen: A Record Private-Equity IPO
Nielsen, the television audience rating company owned by Blackstone Group (BX), Carlyle Group, KKR (KFN), and Thomas H. Lee Partners, raised $1.6 billion in the biggest private equity-led U.S. initial public offering since 2006. The sum exceeded expectations for a company that posted $1.4 billion in net annual losses since being taken private four years ago, especially since IPOs backed by private equity funds gained less than half as much as other IPOs last year. Data compiled by Bloomberg show that more than half of U.S. IPOs planned for 2011 are backed by leveraged buyout firms.
Barclays: A Thousand Jobs on the Line
Barclays (BCS) may cut about 1,000 jobs at its U.K. consumer unit as it ceases offering individual customers face-to-face investment advice at its branches. The bank, which has about 147,000 employees worldwide, is reviewing its divisions to focus on operations that deliver the greatest returns. CEO Robert Diamond says the lender plans to rein in costs by providing retail investment services solely online. The potential job cuts won't affect clients of Barclays Wealth, the lender's private banking unit. According to the Confederation of British Industry, U.K. financial services companies will eliminate an estimated 45,000 jobs between September 2010 and March 2011.
On the Move
— CVS Caremark (CVS): COO Larry Merlo named CEO
— RadioShack (RSH): CFO Jim Gooch will step up to CEO in May
— Merck (MRK): Lanxess CFO Matthias Zachert to be CFO
— Intel (INTC): Black Eyed Peas popstar will.i.am hired as a creative director