- - Sunday, April 1, 2012

AUTOMOBILES

Safety agency probes Chevrolet, Jeep fires

DETROIT The government said Sunday it is investigating reports of engine fires in the Chevrolet Cruze small car and Jeep Wrangler SUV.

The fires haven’t caused any injuries but have destroyed at least six vehicles. NHTSA is investigating the 2011 Cruze and the 2010 Wrangler.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received two reports of fires in the 2011 Cruze. In both cases, owners reported that the fires began while the cars were moving, and in both cases the cars were destroyed.

NHTSA also has received eight reports of fires in 2010 model year Wranglers. Most began when the vehicles were moving, and four owners reported that their vehicles were destroyed.

ELECTRONICS

Panasonic may move phone production outside Japan

TOKYO Japan’s Panasonic is considering shifting all its production of mobile phone handsets abroad as early as this summer, a report said Sunday.

The electronics giant, which already produces some handsets abroad, is considering ending production at a factory in central Shizuoka prefecture, where nearly half its handsets are made, the Nikkei daily said.

Work from the Shizuoka factory will be moved to Beijing and Malaysia, and some will be outsourced to other manufacturers abroad, although the report did not say where. The electronics giant has warned it would see its worst-ever net loss of 780 billion yen ($9.4 billion) for the year to March.

FINANCE

Argentina threatens banks over Falklands oil work

LONDON Argentina has threatened to sue several international banks for advising firms hunting for oil off the Falkland Islands and writing reports on them, a newspaper said on Sunday.

In the past 10 days, Argentina’s embassy in Britain has warned 15 banks, including U.S. giant Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and the London-based Barclays Capital, that they face criminal and civil action in Argentina, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

Britain and Argentina have been engaged in a renewed war of words over the Falklands as the 30th anniversary of their brief war over the archipelago approaches.

The letter reportedly warns banks that even writing research notes on companies involved in oil exploration off the archipelago would represent “a violation of the applicable domestic and international rules.”

PHARMACEUTICALS

Roche rethinking takeover bid for U.S. gene-mapping firm

GENEVA Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche could withdraw its takeover bid for U.S. gene mapper Illumina, the SonntagsZeitung reported Sunday, citing sources close to the deal.

“Illumina would be an interesting business to acquire for Roche, but it is not essential to its development,” the unnamed source told the Swiss paper.

The Basel-based company launched its bid - previously estimated at $5.7 billion - for Illumina on January 25. But the U.S. provider of integrated systems for DNA sequencing, had opposed the hostile move saying Roche’s offer price was too low.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.