Comcast: New networks for Magic and Diddy
Comcast (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable operator, is going to distribute new TV networks led by basketball hall of famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson and rap artist Sean “Diddy” Combs. Comcast committed to carry 10 new independent stations when it bought NBCUniversal in 2011. Combs’s station, “Revolt,” will air in 2013 with live performances and music videos. Johnson is joining forces with GMC, formerly the Gospel Music Channel, on a channel called “Aspire” aimed at black families. Two other stations will target Hispanics. Separately, Comcast is launching a service called Xfinity Streampix that, like Netflix (NFLX), lets customers stream TV shows and movies on computers and mobile devices.
Helicopter Makers: Hovering over Asia
The world’s largest helicopter makers—Boeing (BA), Sikorsky Aircraft (UTX), American Eurocopter, and Bell Helicopter (TXT) —are looking to Asia, where militaries are upgrading their aging fleets. Tenders could generate sales worth $10 billion over three years, Eurocopter estimates, making Asia the world’s fastest-growing market for military choppers. Defense spending in the region rose 14 percent last year. An air show held in Singapore in mid-February is expected to usher in a string of new orders, starting with a $1.5 billion contract from India.
Novartis: Looking for a hepatitis C treatment
Novartis (NVS) agreed to pay as much as $440 million for the rights to an experimental drug to treat hepatitis C. It joins other large pharmaceutical firms, including Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), in the quest to develop medicines against the virus. Novartis will pay Enanta Pharmaceuticals $34 million initially for the rights to EDP-239 and will kick in as much as $406 million more if it meets clinical, regulatory, and sales goals. The drug, which will soon start human trials, works by blocking a protein the virus needs to replicate.
China Telecom: A new iPhone network in China
China Telecom (CHA) will become the nation’s second wireless operator to offer Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 4S. For Apple, the move almost doubles the number of potential iPhone buyers who can get a subsidized handset from a service operator. That may alleviate some of the supply bottleneck that led customers to pelt Apple’s main Beijing store with eggs in January, after it cancelled the start of sales of the iPhone 4S. China Telecom is giving customers a free phone if they commit to a two-year, $62-a-month contract
Fuller Brush: Door-to-door icon files for Chapter 11
Fuller Brush, founded in 1906 and for decades known for its door-to-door salesmen, filed for bankruptcy less than two months after saying the company had “completely rebooted itself.” The cleaning-products maker listed debts of about $50 million in Chapter 11 documents filed on Feb. 21. Fuller, which is controlled by the private equity firm Buckingham Capital Partners, recently introduced a new marketing campaign, products, and distribution channels, as well as a revamped website.