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Business briefs Feb. 2

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Cuban capitalism flounders — Two years after taking office, President Raul Castro widened the niche for private enterprise in Cuba’s state-dominated economy. Capitalism came pouring in. Eight years later, the Cuban government proclaimed in August that it was putting a temporary halt on new licenses for bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and other businesses until it could issue new regulations to control illegality. Cuba’s private economy remains frozen, leading to a slowdown in private investment in Cuba at a time of economic fragility and uncertainty.

Amazon posts billion-dollar quarter: It was a prime holiday season for Amazon: The online retailer’s quarterly profit soared past $1 billion for the first time in its more than 20-year history as it sold more voice-activated gadgets, enlisted new Prime members and benefited from its recent purchase of Whole Foods. The Seattle-based company’s profit was also helped by recent changes to the tax law, giving it a $789 million tax benefit during the fourth quarter.

Willie Nelson raises $12 million: Capital raises in the marijuana industry appear to be continuing unabated since the issuance of the Sessions Memo on Jan. 4. Country music star Willie Nelson’s cannabis company joined the marijuana funding fray Wednesday with the announcement of a $12 million raise for expansion into new markets. Nelson’s company, GHC Inc., plans to enter the California market with its Willie’s Reserve brand during the spring of 2018. GHC already has products available in Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state.

EBay drops PayPal: EBay said Wednesday that PayPal will no longer be its payments processor after the agreement between the two companies ends in 2020. EBay has signed a new, long-term deal with Dutch payments-services company Adyen, which will start handling a small amount of eBay’s payment processing later this year. Adyen’s name may not be well-known in the United States, but the company does count Uber, Netflix and Spotify among the companies that use its technology for processing customer payments.

Britain moves to limit EU rights: European Union citizens who come to Britain during a transition period after the country leaves the bloc should not have the same rights to remain as those who come earlier, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Thursday. Speaking to reporters on a trip to China, May said, “I’m clear there’s a difference between those people who came prior to us leaving and those who will come when they know the U.K. is no longer a member of the EU.”

— The Associated Press

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