Good morning, MBA readers,
In a first across the 50 states, Missouri is suing China over the coronavirus outbreak, demanding compensation for billions of dollars of economic damage stemming from the country’s alleged “deceit, concealment, misfeasance, and inaction” in the face of the virus. Missouri’s case — deemed likely to fail by international law experts — came as people protesting the state’s stay-at-home order marched with flags and signs in the streets outside the Missouri Capitol and governor’s mansion in Jefferson City. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, warns that a more deadly second wave of the virus could occur later this year if appropriate measures are not taken to address the pandemic, complicating the calculus regarding when and how to “reopen” economies.
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Congress advances $484 billion in coronavirus aid
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill allocating $484 billion in additional coronavirus relief funds for small businesses and hospitals. The measure, which heads to the House, includes $310 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program. It also allocates an additional $75 billion in relief for hospitals, $60 billion for small lenders, $60 billion toward Small Business Administration disaster loans and $25 billion for coronavirus testing. (CNBC)
Protests held in Jefferson City as COVID-19 death toll rises
Dozens gathered Tuesday outside the Missouri Capitol and the governor’s mansion to protest the statewide stay-at-home order that is aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. Also on Tuesday, Johns Hopkins University reported 16 new deaths from the virus in Missouri, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 215. (Associated Press)
Parson signs professional license reciprocity bill
Under the new law, Missouri will honor professional licenses that military spouses earned in other states, potentially removing a barrier to relocating to the state. Gov. Mike Parson, who signed the bill Tuesday, has expressed interest in expanding the program to cover non-military families looking to move to Missouri. (St. Louis Public Radio)
Mallinckrodt faces charges over fraudulent opioid claims
New York state on Tuesday brought civil charges against the pharmaceutical company, which has its U.S. headquarters in the St. Louis area. The suit alleges the company overstated the benefits of addictive opioid painkillers while downplaying their risks. (Reuters)
Emerson accelerates cost-cutting amid sales rout
The Ferguson-based industrial conglomerate on Tuesday reported a 9% drop in net sales for its fiscal second year. Emerson expects net sales to be down 19% for the next quarter due to low demand amid the pandemic. The company plans to cut $280 million in costs this fiscal year, up from its earlier target of $215 million. (St. Louis Business Journal)
UMKC prepares for job cuts, citing ‘uncertain’ variables
University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Mauli Agrawal Chancellor has asked all university departments to cut their budgets by up to 17.5%, adding that the cuts are expected to result in layoffs, furloughs and a “significant reduction” in non-compensation expenses. (KCUR)
Elanco adds Bayer Animal Health’s top KC exec ahead of acquisition
Elanco Animal Health has hired Joyce Lee, president of Bayer Animal Health’s North American operations, as its executive vice president and president of U.S. pet health and commercial operations. Lee’s hiring comes as Elanco seeks regulatory approval of its $7.6 billion bid for Bayer’s animal health operation, which is based in the Kansas City area. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Springfield area takes ‘half step’ toward reopening economy
Officials announced Tuesday that non-essential businesses in Springfield and Greene County will be allowed to resume operations effective immediately on a limited basis. The approach, which is slated to last until May 4, specifically limits customer interactions to curbside pickup and delivery. The local stay-at-home order remains in effect. (Springfield Business Journal)
KC meatpacker resumes production at Iowa plant after wave of infections
National Beef has resumed production at a plant in Iowa, where 177 of the 500 workers there tested positive for COVID-19. In response, the Kansas City-based company had paused production at the plant for two weeks. (Associated Press)
Enterprise Financial reports profit drop due to coronavirus
The Clayton-based financial services firm reported net income of $12.9 million for the first quarter, down 20% from a year earlier. The company cited loan losses resulting from the coronavirus downturn and merger-related expenses as the main drivers of the profit drop. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Edward Jones to give $2.7 million toward coronavirus efforts
The St. Louis-based investment firm has committed $2.7 million in funding for nonprofits in its headquarter cities: St. Louis; Tempe, Arizona; and Mississauga, Canada. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Bass Pro founder pledges 1 million masks for hospitals
Johnny Morris has partnered with Springfield nonprofit Convoy of Hope to distribute 1 million face masks to health care workers in communities that have a Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s location. The Bass Pro Shops founder’s pledge includes 40,000 masks for hospitals in the Ozarks. (Springfield Business Journal)
Columbia approves bond issue for new airport terminal
The Columbia City Council voted to approve issuing $14.5 million in bonds to finance a new terminal at Columbia Regional Airport. The city has received three proposals from companies looking to take on the project, which will cost an estimated total of $26.6 million. (Columbia Missourian)
Software firm shifts to helping businesses secure relief funding
ClubReady, a Chesterfield-based company that makes management software for gyms, has partnered with Cross River Bank in New Jersey to offer assistance for its customers as they apply for federal small business relief loans. (St. Louis Business Journal)
Historic KC restaurant shutters for good
Webster House founder Shirley Bush Helzberg said Monday that the restaurant and retail business will permanently shut down due to the coronavirus. Helzberg, who saved the historic building from demolition in 2002, plans to sell the business. (KSHB)
Two KC-area United Way groups to merge
The United Way of Greater Kansas City and United Way of Wyandotte County will merge as one organization and take the former’s name. Together the two groups raise about $30 million each year. (Kansas City Business Journal)
Springfield allocates $86,000 for local coronavirus response
The Springfield City Council voted to authorize a partnership with Greene County to allocate a total of $86,000 in response to COVID-19. City Finance Director David Holtmann said the city is looking for ways to reduce its current spending as the pandemic shrinks sales tax revenue. (Springfield Business Journal)
Today I filed suit against the Chinese government to seek recovery for the devastating loss of life & economic suffering Missourians face as a result of the #COVID19 pandemic.
The bottom line: they lied to the world & should be held accountable. https://t.co/Q2JgnAHLCH
— Eric Schmitt (@Eric_Schmitt) April 21, 2020
That’s Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, announcing his effort to sue China over the economic toll of the coronavirus. The state’s civil lawsuit, the first of its kind in the U.S., seeks tens of billions in cash compensation, alleging that a poor response by the Chinese government to the coronavirus outbreak resulted in economic damage to Missouri and its residents. Legal experts say the effort will likely fail due to sovereign immunity for foreign governments in U.S. courts, Reuters reports.
Say that again
“This pandemic has paused many people’s investment strategy. Fortunately for us, this shines a light on how critical infrastructure is to our daily lives.”
That’s Russell Williams, managing principal of Green Peak Capital Partners, who says the pandemic has actually validated his firm’s investment strategy, the St. Louis Business Journal reports. Last month, the Clayton-based private equity firm closed on its acquisition of Arnold-based Plattin Creek Excavating, which provides site development services for commercial buildings and various utilities projects. The deal is part of Green Peak’s wider bid to acquire critical infrastructure companies that are considered essential for the functioning of society and the economy. Green Peak’s next target may be companies building infrastructures related to 5G communications and other future technologies. Williams, former senior director of international business operations at Aegion, founded Green Peak last year.
That’s roughly the rejection rate for federal paycheck relief loan requests in the Kansas City area, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. According to a recent survey, banks in the Kansas City area had received 11,820 applications for the Paycheck Protection Program and approved 5,765 of them. Eleven of the banks have reportedly approved $2.7 billion in PPP loans. The survey found that 33% of the rejected borrowers were unable to provide required documents and another 27% were ineligible due to their industry. About 40% were rejected for other reasons, including the program running out of funds.
It’s been a pleasure doing business with you this morning.