Missouri Minute: Presidential primaries arrive; Parson cancels trip amid coronavirus fears

Good morning, MBA readers,

One week after Super Tuesday, the presidential primaries have arrived in Missouri. The crowd has dwindled on the Democratic side, and it’s effectively a showdown between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the party’s nomination to face President Donald Trump in the general election.

Biden and Sanders stand far apart on numerous policy issues, including economic policies significant to Missouri. On trade, for example, Biden has a record of backing free trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, while Sanders has been an ardent opponent of such deals. In recent weeks, Sanders ramped up his attack on Biden’s position on trade. At the same time, both have voiced support for union workers striking against General Motors last year. Sanders is one of the loudest voices calling for a $15 minimum wage, echoing a rallying cry also adopted by low-wage workers in Kansas City and St. Louis. Biden has also voiced support for a $15 minimum wage, but much of his campaign has honed in on other flagship issues.

Health care is perhaps the most divisive issue between the candidates. Biden, who served under former President Barack Obama, proposes building on the Affordable Care Act to expand public health coverage under Medicaid and maintain private insurance. Sanders proposes covering all Americans under his “Medicare for All” plan, potentially sidelining or eliminating the need for private insurance.

As Missouri heads to the polls, you can scroll down for more of the state’s top business news.


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Stay alert

Parson cancels trip abroad amid coronavirus fears
Gov. Mike Parson canceled plans to travel to Greece, Israel, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for a trade mission. Israel has since announced that any travelers entering the country from abroad must be quarantined for 14 days after their arrival. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Bayer shuts down St. Louis campus after potential coronavirus exposure
The agriculture giant on Monday closed its Global Seeds and Traits headquarters in Creve Coeur until further notice after learning a local employee may have been exposed to coronavirus. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

St. Louis Amtrak station disinfected
Amtrak stations in Chicago and St. Louis will undergo a deep clean after Missouri’s first potential coronavirus patient took a train from Chicago to St. Louis last week before noticing symptoms. (Philadelphia Business Journal)

Dairy Farmers of America postpone annual meeting
Kansas City’s largest private company joined many others across the country Monday when it announced plans to cancel its annual meeting later this month “out of an abundance of caution” amid growing fears surrounding the spread of the coronavirus. (Kansas City Business Journal)

World’s largest insurance deal involves two companies with St. Louis presence
Aon announced plans to buy Willis Towers Watson for nearly $30 billion, which would make it the world’s largest insurance broker. Both companies have St. Louis offices. (Reuters)

Cerner applauds new loosened regulations
The health IT company on welcomed the passage of new federal health IT laws that will make it easier for its users to share data and for patients to access their own. The decision comes after months of deliberation over the rules made by the Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (Kansas City Business Journal)

St. Louis county judge stays Maryland Heights floodplain development decision
A judge has temporarily delayed a decision on whether a subsidy district should be created for a proposed development on a Maryland Heights floodplain that developers have swooned over for years. (St. Louis Business Journal)


Say that again

“You don’t want people worrying about pay right now.”

That’s Emerson CEO David Farr, who on Monday told employees that they would be paid if they had to stay home due to illness or school cancellation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Over the weekend, Farr asked an employee to stay home because the employee’s wife may have been exposed to coronavirus at an event Saturday in Clayton. The Ferguson-based industrial giant is far from the only area firm taking similar precautions. Nestlé Purina PetCare, which assembled a coronavirus response committee, alerted its 2,750 St. Louis-area employees Sunday by text that they can work remotely if they or a family member was at the Clayton event. Several area firms, including Emerson, Purina, Edward Jones and Wells Fargo Advisors have canceled nonessential travel and replaced in-person meetings with teleconferences. Washington University has suspended all international university travel through April and barred any visitors who have been in countries with high incidence of coronavirus.


Go figure

7.8%

That’s how much the Dow Jones Industrial average plunged Monday, the worst one-day loss since 2008, due to tumbling oil prices and ongoing coronavirus fears, Reuters reports. The losses come after an oil supply deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia collapsed over the weekend, leading Saudi Arabia to launch an oil price war as the world grapples with a global virus outbreak. Shares of at least 10 Kansas City-area companies dropped more steeply than the Dow on Monday, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust, UMB Financial and Kansas City Southern were hit hardest with drops of 19.5%, 17.1% and 15.2%, respectively.


Hello, my name is

Mark Pearson

AMC Entertainment Holdings has hired this TV veteran to fill a new executive role created to forge strategic partnerships with streaming services like Netflix, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Pearson comes from 20th Century Fox Television, where he most recently worked as an executive vice president and focused on digital content and on-demand streaming. He will continue to be based in Los Angeles and will work out of AMC’s office there. Pearson’s hiring at the Leawood, Kansas-based company is believed to mark the first time a major theater chain has hired an executive dedicated to working with streaming services. It could also mark a turning point in the theater industry’s relationship with such companies. In January, AMC left out Netflix films “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” on its best picture showcases, following its decision last year to not show another Netflix film, “Roma,” in its theaters.


Word to the wise

Shareholder derivative complaint

A lawsuit brought by a shareholder on behalf of a corporation against company executives, according to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. It’s the kind of legal action brought by Bayer shareholder Rebecca Haussmann against Bayer CEO Werner Baumann and Chairman Werner Wenning, who plans to step down in April, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Haussmann’s lawsuit argues Baumann and Wenning “inflicted billions of dollars of damage” to the company when they pushed for the $63 billion takeover of St. Louis-based Monsanto in 2018. Since the merger, over 48,000 people have sued Bayer, claiming Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused their cancer. Haussmann’s case seeks compensatory damages for shareholders repayment of “all compensation paid to Bayer managers and supervisors who participated in bringing about this acquisition” and return of funds paid to banks and law firms involved in the deal.


It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.


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