Financial Daily Dose 1.25.2021 | Top Story: Merck Abandons Covid Vaccine Effort Over Ineffective Results

January 25, 2021

U.S. drug giant Merck is shuttering its coronavirus vaccine development “after early trial data showed [its pair of vaccines] failed to generate immune responses comparable to natural infection or existing vaccines.” Its more traditional attempt had focused on “shots based on weakened virus” - Bloomberg and WSJ and HuffPost

Clickbait-ad maven Taboola, which had until recently considered merging with competitor Outbrain, is reportedly set to go public via SPAC in a deal with backers like Fidelity and BlackRock that will value the company at roughly $2.6 billion - NYTimes and TechCrunch

Feels like the right time to discuss the meteoric rise of the aforementioned special purpose acquisition companies, the blank check firms that have “increasingly” become “the favorite source of financing for private companies looking to go public.” In short, these are “big pools of cash listed on an exchange,” whose purpose “is to find a private company, buy it and take it public quickly” - WSJ [and TechCrunch and Law360]

NBCUniversal is shuttering its popular NBC Sports Network—the #2 “sports channel on cable last year”—in an effort to push viewers to its Peacock streaming platform - NYTimes and WSJ and Bloomberg

The Times profiles AMC Entertainment’s Adam Aron, the “brash executive in Kansas” charged with saving the flagging movie theater industry. He just needed to raise another $750 million to do it. [And he did] - NYTimes [and MarketWatch]

New Uber ownership has laid off nearly 200 from its Postmates division, including “[m]ost of the executive team”—some of whom will head to the door with “multimillion dollar exit packages.” The cuts come as Uber seeks to integrate is “food delivery division, Uber Eats, with Postmates” - NYTimes

The Fed meets for the first time in the Biden era this week, and central-bank watchers expect Chair Powell’s post-FOMC meeting remarks to highlight “how he and his colleagues evaluate the impact of the fiscal shift on the economic outlook amid rising Treasury yields and a stock market pushing to new record highs” - Bloomberg

A raft of major global banks—including Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citi & JPMorgan—have managed to make their way out of a Mexican antitrust inquiry for a meager $1.5 million (for all seven). The banks had been the subject of a 4-year “investigation into alleged price rigging in the peso bond market,” and that anemic fine amounts to just “4% of potential penalties” - Bloomberg

Former Fed Chair Yellen is expected to win Senate approval today as the nation’s Treasury Secretary. Yellen gained unanimous approval from the Senate Finance Committee on Friday – Law360

Here’s what to expect in her future working relationship with her central-bank replacement - WSJ

We reported last week that Amazon’s offered to help the government with vaccine rollout logistics. Turns out its far from the only big U.S. business looking for a way to lend a hand - NYTimes

Samsung is considering investing “as much as $17 billion to build a chip-making factory in Arizona, Texas or New York,” a move largely dependent on “the availability of U.S. federal government incentives to offset those offered by foreign countries and cheaper costs in other parts of the world” - WSJ

DuPont, Corteva, and Chemours Co. revealed on Friday that “they have jointly committed $4 billion to cover liabilities for their past use of toxic substances known as ‘forever chemicals’ and will pay $83 million to settle multidistrict litigation in Ohio over the pollutant” – Law360

Finding yourselves justifiably overwhelmed by the winter of 2021? Why not escape to a [much] simpler time: the world of 1980s romantic comedies. The Times as some recs for you - NYTimes

Stay safe,