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Massey, Alpha investors approve $7.1 billion deal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Shareholders overwhelmingly approved coal producer Alpha Natural Resources’ $7.1 billion takeover of its struggling rival Massey Energy Co. on Wednesday, the companies said.

Alpha immediately began absorbing Massey, replacing the company’s sign on its West Virginia headquarters and filing at least 18 documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission canceling Massey shares after the deal closed.

Massey’s safety record has been the focus of renewed scrutiny since 29 miners died in an explosion at its Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia. The April 5, 2010, tragedy is the deadliest at a U.S. mine since 1970 and remains the subject of ongoing civil and criminal investigations. Massey also has a checkered environmental record and paid a record $20 million fine for alleged pollution violations to the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008.

TENNESSEE

Web entertainment theft bill approved

NASHVILLE — State lawmakers in country music’s capital have passed a groundbreaking measure that would make it a crime to use a friend’s login — even with permission — to listen to songs or watch movies from services such as Netflix or Rhapsody.

The bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, was pushed by recording industry officials to try to stop the loss of billions of dollars to illegal music sharing. They hope other states will follow.

The legislation was aimed at hackers and thieves who sell passwords in bulk, but its sponsors acknowledge it could be employed against people who use a friend’s or relative’s subscription.

While those who share their subscriptions with a spouse or other family members under the same roof almost certainly have nothing to fear, blatant offenders could get in trouble.

GREECE

Moody’s downgrades country again

ATHENS — The credit-rating agency Moody’s downgraded Greece’s bond rating deeper into junk status Wednesday, a further blow to the struggling country, which has been wrapping up negotiations for a vital fifth installment of international bailout loans.

Moody’s downgraded Greece by three notches from a B1 rating to Caa1 with a negative outlook, citing increased risk that the financially stricken country will be unable to handle its debt problems without an eventual restructuring — paying creditors less than the full amount or later than originally planned.

The agency also cited “the country’s highly uncertain growth prospects” and the missed targets in budget reforms being carried out in return for a $110 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund and other European Union countries that use the euro.

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