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Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges for Opioid Sales

The Justice Department announced yesterday that Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of the addictive painkiller, and faces penalties of roughly $8.3 billion, the New York Times reported. The settlement could pave the way for a resolution of thousands of lawsuits brought against the company for its role in a public health crisis that has killed more than 450,000 Americans since 1999. The company’s owners, members of the wealthy Sackler family, have agreed to pay $225 million in civil penalties. Prosecutors said the agreement did not preclude the filing of criminal charges against Purdue executives or individual Sacklers. The federal settlement does not end all of the extensive litigation against Purdue, but it does represent a significant advance in the long legal march by states, tribes, cities and counties to hold the most prominent opioid maker accountable.

Coronavirus Stimulus Vote Could Come After Election Day, Negotiators Say

White House officials and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-Calif.) opened the door to passing a coronavirus relief package after the election, a signal that time and political will has likely run out to enact legislation before then, the Wall Street Journal reported. Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday reported more progress on a potential $2 trillion aid agreement. But even if they strike a deal before Nov. 3, legislation would face vanishing prospects of quickly becoming law, thanks to both the tight calendar and hardened opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate. Still, in the waning days of an election season in which both the White House and Senate are up for grabs, neither party wanted to give up on months-long discussions over providing relief for households and businesses still struggling during the pandemic. “I’m optimistic that there will be a bill. It’s a question of, is it in time to pay the November rent, which is my goal, or is it going to be shortly thereafter and retroactive?” Pelosi said yesterday. Larry Kudlow, a top White House economic adviser, said on CNBC Wednesday that negotiators were “running out of time, at least between now and the election” and that wrapping up work on a relief package in a lame-duck session, after the election but before the next administration begins, “could be a possibility.”

JC Penney Sees Bankruptcy Protection Exit by Christmas

J.C. Penney believes it will emerge from bankruptcy protection before Christmas under a new ownership agreement that would save tens of thousands of jobs, the Associated Press reported. The beleaguered, century-old retailer said yesterday that it has filed a draft asset purchase agreement with the two biggest mall owners in the U.S. Substantially all of J.C. Penney’s retail and operating assets will be acquired by Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Simon Property Group through a combination of cash and new term loan debt. Details of the deal that will save roughly 70,000 jobs and avert a total liquidation first emerged last month during a bankruptcy hearing. J.C. Penney, which even before the pandemic had struggled to compete with the likes of Amazon.com, Target and Walmart, became one of the largest retailers to file for chapter 11 protection this year amid a wave of store closures forced by the spread of COVID-19 infections in the U.S. The Plano, Texas, retailer will shed nearly a third of its stores in the next two years as it restructures, leaving just 600 locations open.

Ann Taylor Parent Gets Higher Bid for Tween Brand Justice

Ascena Retail Group Inc., the parent company of apparel retailers Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, has received a new, higher stalking horse offer to buy the intellectual property, e-commerce business and other assets of its tween-oriented chain Justice out of bankruptcy, WSJ Pro Bankruptcy reported. The $44 million bid from brand management company Bluestar Alliance LLC trumps a previous $35 million offer from Premier Brands Justice LLC, an acquisition vehicle of apparel maker and distributor IHL Group. Premier’s offer for the Justice chain hadn’t been completed as the stalking-horse bid, meaning Bluestar’s higher bid now is the lead offer. Bluestar won’t charge Ascena a breakup fee if the deal falls through, compared with the $1.05 million breakup fee that Ascena would have had to pay IHL Group, a division of USA Apparel Group Inc. IHL’s portfolio of licensed brands includes Aéropostale, BCBG, Rachel Roy and Daisy Fuentes. Bluestar’s offer, unveiled in court papers Tuesday, includes reimbursing Ascena up to $200,000 in expenses for legal and other fees, less than the $450,000 negotiated with IHL. Founded in 2006, Bluestar manages more than 100 stores and over 300 licensees, including brands such as Brookstone, Tahari and Bebe, according to its website.

Quibi Is Shutting Down Barely Six Months After Going Live

Quibi Holdings LLC is shutting down a mere six months after launching its streaming service, a crash landing for a once highly touted startup that attracted some of the biggest names in Hollywood and had looked to revolutionize how people consume entertainment, the Wall Street Journal reported. The streaming service, which served up shows in 5- to 10-minute “chapters” formatted to fit a smartphone screen, has been plagued with problems since its April debut, facing lower-than-expected viewership and a lawsuit from a well-capitalized foe. “Our failure was not for lack of trying,” founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Chief Executive Meg Whitman said in an open letter to employees and investors. “We’ve considered and exhausted every option available to us.” Katzenberg and Whitman decided to shut down the company in an effort to return as much capital to investors as possible instead of trying to prolong the life of the company and risk losing more money. Employees will be laid off and will be paid a severance, the people said, and Quibi will explore selling the rights to some of its content to other media and technology companies. Quibi, which cost $4.99 a month, also had to compete with a growing number of rivals, with launches of Walt Disney’s Disney+, Apple Inc.’s Apple TV+, AT&T Inc.’s HBO Max and Comcast Corp.’s Peacock all occurring in the past year. In yesterday’s letter, Katzenberg and Whitman said that there were “one or two reasons” for Quibi’s failure: The idea behind Quibi either “wasn’t strong enough to justify a stand-alone streaming service” or the service’s launch in the middle of a pandemic was particularly ill-timed.
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