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Economy Briefs: Hasbro says gender-neutral Easy-Bake on the way

- - Monday, December 17, 2012

PROVIDENCE — Hasbro says it soon will reveal a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven after meeting with a New Jersey girl who started a campaign calling on the toymaker to create one that appeals to all children.

McKenna Pope, 13, of Garfield, N.J., met Monday with officials at the company's Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters.

It was there where they showed off a prototype of their newest Easy-Bake. It is black, silver and blue, rather than purple and pink.

McKenna said the company is doing everything she asked, including putting boys in the ads.

Hasbro said it has been working on the color scheme for about 18 months and that the new Easy-Bake could be on store shelves next summer.

UTILITIES

Power wholesaler, subsidiary file for bankruptcy protection

CHICAGO — Power wholesaler Edison Mission Energy and its Chicago-based subsidiary Midwest Generation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday to try to restructure about $5 billion in debt.

It wasn't clear what impact the move would have on Midwest Generation's almost 1,000 Illinois employees.

In petitions filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago, Edison Mission Energy listed $5.13 billion in assets and $5.1 billion in debt. Santa Ana, Calif.-based Edison Mission Energy is owned by the California utility Edison International.

Edison Mission Energy President Pedro Pizarro said the companies hope to emerge from bankruptcy independent of Edison International.

TECHNOLOGY

Sprint raises its offer to $2.2 billion for full stake in Clearwire network

NEW YORK — Sprint, the country's third-largest cellphone company, said Monday that it will buy out the portion of wireless network operator Clearwire that it doesn't already own after raising its offer price to $2.2 billion.

The deal would give Sprint control of a flailing affiliate, one on which it depends to provide high-speed "Sprint 4G" data services on some of its phones. It would increase Sprint's access to the airwaves, meaning it could boost data speeds in coming years. However, cell towers using Clearwire spectrum have poor range, making it difficult to provide broad coverage.

Sprint Nextel Corp. said it will pay $2.97 per share for the nearly 50 percent stake in Clearwire stock it doesn't already own. A board committee that excluded Sprint appointees approved the offer. The board hadn't approved Sprint's earlier offer of $2.90 per share, or a total of $2.1 billion, which was made Thursday.

TRADE

Japanese firm settles for $45 million in U.S. import cheating case

RALEIGH, N.C. — A Japanese producer of violet coloring for inks and plastics is paying more than $45 million to settle allegations that it falsely described where the products were made to avoid U.S. import duties on Chinese and Indian makers, the Justice Department said Monday.

The settlement with Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co. Ltd. and its affiliates in New Jersey and Illinois was reached three years after a South Carolina competitor filed a lawsuit in Charlotte.

The U.S. Commerce Department found that Indian companies making the violet pigment were subsidized unfairly by their government and Chinese producers were dumping their product in the U.S. at below fair value. The pigment is used mostly to color inks, but also textiles, plastics and other materials.

AIRLINES

Carriers post third-quarter gains from baggage fee collections

Airlines are raking in more baggage fees.

U.S. airlines collected $924 million in baggage fees in the third quarter, up almost 3 percent from the same period last year, the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported Monday.

United Continental Holdings Inc. reported some of the biggest gains. United collected $187.3 million in bag fees in the third quarter, up 10.8 percent from a year earlier.

Delta Air Lines Inc. is the second-biggest airline by traffic, but it had the top spot for baggage fees. It has collected $662.8 million so far this year. That is up slightly from the same period last year.

INTERNET

Hulu revenue up to $695M, with 3 million subscribers

LOS ANGELES — Online video service Hulu says revenue this year will grow about 65 percent to $695 million.

Hulu says it has more than doubled the number of subscribers who pay $8 a month for Hulu Plus. The figure now exceeds 3 million. Hulu Plus gives users a broader selection of back episodes and access over mobile devices, game consoles and Internet-connected TVs. Both free and paid versions of Hulu come with ads.

&bull From wire dispatches and staff reports