Economy Briefs: Facebook set to pay Microsoft for patents

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SAN FRANCISCO — A half-billion-dollar patent deal between Facebook and Microsoft was announced on Monday as the social network hardened its defenses ahead of going public with a stock offering on the Nasdaq.

Facebook Inc. said it would pay Microsoft Corp. $550 million for some of the patents the software giant recently acquired from AOL.

Facebook will pick up about 650 of the 925 patents Microsoft bought earlier this month in an auction from AOL in a nearly $1.1 billion deal, Facebook and Microsoft said in a statement.

Facebook’s general counsel called the move “another significant step in our ongoing process of building an intellectual property portfolio to protect Facebook’s interests over the long term.”

“Today’s agreement with Facebook enables us to recoup over half of our costs while achieving our goals from the AOL auction,” said Microsoft Executive Vice President Brad Smith.

Facebook also arranged to license the remaining 275 remaining patents or applications in the portfolio being bought by Microsoft, which gets the right to use the patented technology going to the California-based social network.

“Today’s agreement with Microsoft represents an important acquisition for Facebook,” general counsel Ted Ullyot said.

KUWAIT

Struggling airline gets OK from Cabinet to go private

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait’s Cabinet has approved a draft law to privatize struggling state carrier Kuwait Airways within three years.

Minister of Communications Salem al-Uthaina told the official Kuwait News Agency late Sunday that the measure calls on the airline’s board to sell a 35 percent stake to the highest bidder.

The draft law has been referred to the country’s legislature.

An attempt to privatize the airline fizzled last year when the Cabinet recommended the airline be restructured before pursuing the sale of a 35 percent stake.

The airline is hurting financially as it struggles to compete with newer rivals such as Dubai’s Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.

ENGLAND

BAA sells Edinburgh airport for $1.3 billion

LONDON — Airport operator BAA Ltd. says it has agreed to sell Edinburgh Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners for $1.3 billion.

The sale announced Monday complies with an order by the Competition Commission, the U.K.’s antitrust watchdog, that BAA dispose of either its Edinburgh or Glasgow airport.

BAA, which owns Heathrow Airport, sold Gatwick Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners for $2.4 billionin 2009 but has yet to dispose of Stansted Airport, which also serves London. BAA’s appeal of the order to sell Stansted was rejected in February.

BAA is owned by a consortium led by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.

Global Infrastructure Partners also owns London City Airport.

CHINA

GM to add 600 dealerships to its network in China

BEIJING — General Motors Co. Chairman Dan Akerson says the automaker plans to open 600 new dealerships in China and add assembly lines despite a slowdown in sales growth.

Mr. Akerson said Monday during the Beijing auto show that GM believes in the “strength of the Chinese market.”

China is the world’s biggest auto market by vehicles sold but sales growth slowed from 35 percent in 2010 to just 2 percent in the latest quarter. Demand has been blunted by government credit and investment controls aimed at slowing an overheated economy.

Mr. Akerson said GM will expand its dealer network from 2,900 last year to 3,500 by the end of this year.

Mr. Akerson said GM also plans to nearly double its production capacity in China to 5 million cars a year by 2016.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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