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TALKING POINTS

Biogen buys experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug from Pfizer

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PHARMACEUTICALS

Biogen buys experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug from Pfizer

Biogen Inc. will buy an experimental Alzheimer’s disease drug from Pfizer Inc. for $75 million, plus additional future payments, extending its wager on therapies for the neurodegenerative condition. The drug, known as PF-05251749, will be developed to treat what’s known as sundowning in Alzheimer’s patients, a condition in which patients get more confused, aggressive, or restless as a day goes on. The drug will complement Cambridge-based Biogen’s experimental drug aducanumab, which is meant to treat the fundamental causes of Alzheimer’s. Along with the $75 million payment, Biogen said in a statement Monday that it will give Pfizer as much as $635 million depending whether the drug hits certain development and commercial milestones, plus sales royalties. Aducanumab, Biogen’s main bet on Alzheimer’s disease, has been colored by controversy. After the drug appeared to be a failure, Biogen announced last year that it had seen promising signs in a clinical trial that were enough to send the drug to US regulators for a potential approval for use in patients. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FINANCE

Wall Street trader placed on leave for using WhatsApp with work colleagues

WhatsApp may be a great way to communicate with friends, but when Wall Streeters touch it, their firms get very nervous. One of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s most senior credit traders, Edward Koo, has become the latest member of the industry swept up in concern over the messaging app. The veteran trader, who has spent almost 20 years at the firm, was placed on leave as the bank reviews whether he broke its policies by using WhatsApp group chats with colleagues, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The discussions included market chatter, and the probe so far hasn’t indicated any improper activity, according to a person familiar with the investigation. The bank hasn’t ruled out taking action against other members of the group, one of the people said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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LABOR

N.J. bill would provide protections to laid-off workers

New Jersey state lawmakers approved a bill that would compel employers to give more notice and pay severance to laid-off workers, after a public backlash against the treatment of workers who lost their jobs in the retail apocalypse. The bill, which has been called the ‘‘Toys R Us bill’’ for workers of the retail chain that filed for bankruptcy in 2017, requires larger employers to pay workers one week of severance for each year of service. It also gives employees 90 days’ notice, rather than just 60 days, in the event of a mass layoff. It was approved 55-21. The bill, which only applies to employers with 100 or more full- or part-time workers laying off 50 or more people, was approved by the state’s Senate in December. It now goes to the desk of Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat. — WASHINGTON POST

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CREDIT CARDS

Visa buys fintech company for $5.3 billion

Visa is purchasing the financial technology company Plaid for $5.3 billion, a major push by the payment processor into other types of money transfer systems outside of credit and debit cards. Plaid allows consumers to link their bank accounts to financial services apps like Venmo, PayPal, Betterment, and Transferwise. The company is an important but relatively unknown middle man between the banks, who hold consumers’s cash, and the dozens of platforms who vie to be the platform of choice to that cash. In a statement, Visa estimates that one in every four Americans who have a bank account have used the underlying technologies of Plaid to link their bank accounts with other money transfer apps. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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AUTOMOTIVE

Corvette named North American Car of the Year

The new mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette won the North American Car of the Year award on Monday. The Kia Telluride took Sport Utility of the Year honors and the Jeep Gladiator won the Truck of the Year Award. About 50 automotive journalists serve as judges, for the awards, which are announced every January. Car finalists included the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Supra. Truck finalists were the heavy-duty Ram pickup and Ford Ranger. The Lincoln Aviator and Hyundai Palisade joined were finalists for the utility award. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

FINANCE

Nordic banks can’t be forced to accept Russian oligarch’s business, court finds

A group of Nordic banks sued by a Russian oligarch aren’t required to accept his business, according to what may prove to be a landmark ruling by a court in Finland. Russian billionaire Boris Rotenberg, an associate of President Vladimir Putin, lost his lawsuit against four Nordic banks and was ordered to pay more than 500,000 euros ($556,000) to cover their legal fees, the Helsinki District Court ruled on Monday. The court said that forcing the banks to accept business from Rotenberg, who is on the US sanctions list, would have subjected them to significant financial risk which they, by law, are prohibited from taking. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

LIFE SCIENCES

Sacklers considering sale of British pharmaceutical company

Mundipharma International Ltd., a global pharmaceutical company owned by the billionaire Sackler family, is working with Deutsche Bank AG as it weighs a sale of the business amid interest from potential buyers, people familiar with the matter said. A sale of the business, based in Cambridge, England, could fetch from $3 billion to $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The Sackler family — once known as global philanthropists backed by a fortune made from opioids and other drugs — have offered to pay $3 billion as part of a $10 billion settlement to resolve lawsuits against them and Purdue Pharma LP. The Sacklers have been accused of causing a national epidemic that’s led to more than 400,000 deaths, in part by overseeing a deceptive marketing campaign that pushed doctors to over-prescribe OxyContin and downplay its highly addictive nature. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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PHARMACEUTICALS

AstraZenaca stops clinical trial of fish-oil pill to treat cholesterol

AstraZeneca will stop testing a fish-oil pill for a form of harmful cholesterol that was in the most advanced and expensive stage of clinical trials. The medicine, called Epanova, didn’t stand a very high likelihood of showing a benefit when combined with a statin for patients at risk of heart disease due to high levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol, Astra said in a statement Monday. Epanova, gained in Astra’s 2013 takeover of Omthera Pharmaceuticals, is a prescription omega-3 capsule approved to treat high levels of triglycerides, which also clog up patients’ arteries. Fish oils contain fatty acids that help combat deposits in blood vessels. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

RETAIL

Walmart to add more robots to its stores

Walmart Inc.’s robot army is growing. The world’s largest retailer will add shelf-scanning robots to 650 more US stores by the end of the summer, bringing its fleet to 1,000. The six-foot-tall Bossa Nova devices, equipped with 15 cameras each, roam aisles and send alerts to store employees’ handheld devices when items are out of stock, helping to solve a vexing problem that costs retailers nearly a trillion dollars annually, according to researcher IHL Group. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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