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More business in brief

Published:Tuesday | June 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Netflix to stop posting notices that irk Verizon

Netflix will stop sending messages blaming Verizon and other Internet service providers for problems with its video subscription service.

The decision, announced in a Monday blog post, follows a legal threat issued by Verizon last week.

Verizon threatened to sue Netflix Inc unless the company abandoned a finger-pointing campaign that made Verizon's Internet service look bad.

Netflix has been posting notices on some subscribers' screens that say congestion on networks operated by Verizon and other Internet service providers hurts users' video quality.

Netflix says the notices were part of a "small-scale test" that will end June 16. Netflix is holding out the possibility of reviving the practice on a broader scale if video-quality problems persist.

Oil closes above US$104

Oil prices rose Monday as positive news on exports from China and economic growth in Japan followed last week's solid jobs report in the United States.

Benchmark US oil for July delivery gained US$1.75 to close at US$104.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That's the highest closing price since March 3.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose US$1.29 to US$109.15 a barrel in London.

China reported Sunday that exports rose seven per cent in dollar terms in May, up from a 0.9 per cent increase in April that followed a slump in February and March. The surge in exports reinforced confidence that the US and European recoveries will drive stronger demand for commodities, including oil.

Japan raised its estimate for economic growth in the January to March quarter to 6.7 per cent from 5.9 per cent, as investment by companies was stronger than first thought.

In other energy futures trading on Nymex, natural gas fell 7 cents to US$4.65 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Merck buying hepatitis C drug developer

Merck & Company will spend about US$3.85 billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc, a small company developing hepatitis C medicines that, together with Merck's experimental drugs, could produce lucrative combo therapies that quickly cure most patients with the blood-borne virus afflicting tens of millions.

The price for the deal announced Monday — a per-share bid more than triple Friday's closing price for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix — seems high. However, the latest hepatitis C medicines command very high prices, the number of patients keeps rising and Merck was bidding against rivals.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said it will spend US$24.50 in cash for each Idenix share. Idenix closed at US$7.23 on Friday, then more than tripled at Monday's opening bell.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which should close in the third quarter.