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Economy Briefs: VeriSign wins .com renewal, but can’t hike prices

- - Sunday, December 2, 2012

NEW YORK — The federal government has cleared VeriSign Inc. to manage the databases that house ".com" domain names for another six years, but the company won't be allowed to raise prices without approval.

Under the current contract, which expires Friday, VeriSign was guaranteed four price increases of up to 7 percent each on domain-name registrations. VeriSign sought a similar guarantee as part of the contract renewal, but the Commerce Department rejected it. The new contract freezes the annual price at the current $7.85 per name, barring special circumstances.

Anyone who wants a ".com" name can obtain one from various companies, which pay VeriSign $7.85 of what they collect on each name. The new contract lets VeriSign continue receiving those fees, but won't guarantee more.

AIRLINES

Reports: Delta in talks for Virgin Atlantic stake

NEW YORK — Delta Air Lines Inc. is mulling the purchase of a 49 percent stake in British airline Virgin Atlantic Airways from Singapore Airlines Ltd., according to media reports.

The remaining 51 percent of Virgin Atlantic is owned by billionaire Richard Branson, who founded the airline in 1984.

Singapore has been considering selling its stake in Virgin for several years and has talked with Delta about a sale in the past, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Virgin has been looking for a possible suitor, too. It hired investment firm Deutsche Bank in 2010 to explore its options.

Buying Virgin is attractive to a carrier like Delta because of its potential to unlock more access to London's Heathrow Airport, a key international gateway. Virgin is the second-biggest airline there after British Airways.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Couple convicted of stealing GM's trade secrets

DETROIT — A former General Motors engineer and her husband have been convicted of stealing trade secrets about hybrid technology for possible use in China.

Shanshan Du and Yu Qin were found guilty Friday by a federal jury in Detroit after a trial that lasted weeks. The government claimed Du sought a transfer while at GM to get access to hybrid-car technology and then copied documents until she accepted a severance offer and left the company in 2005.

Prosecutors told jurors that GM trade secrets were found on at least seven computers owned by the Oakland County couple. The government doesn't think the information ever made it to China.

Du was acquitted of wire fraud.

INSIDER TRADING

One of nation's richest finds himself in hot seat

NEW YORK — Steven A. Cohen may not be a household name, but he's made a name for himself. In finance, fine art and sports, he's had an extraordinary run of success and has amassed assets worth more than $8 billion.

Lately, Mr. Cohen has been linked to what federal prosecutors in New York call history's most lucrative insider-trading scheme, earning a quarter of $1 billion. Mr. Cohen is not charged, but authorities don't dispute characterizations of him as the "Hedge Fund Owner" repeatedly referenced in a criminal complaint against a former employee. The Securities and Exchange Commission has notified his firm, SAC Capital, that it is considering action.

Mr. Cohen reportedly assured investors his firm played by the rules. A spokesman says SAC and Mr. Cohen are cooperating and confident they acted appropriately.

From wire dispatches and staff reports