- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Richmond security company Brink’s Co. said it will spin off Brink’s Home Security after months of pressure from shareholders and expand its board to accommodate the nominees of a shareholder firm. Brink’s said it would continue to operate Brink’s Inc., its secure transportation and cash-management unit. Brink’s shares rose 5.5 percent.

Columbia, Md., specialty chemical maker W.R. Grace & Co. is seeking to clean up its environmental record by selling 10 contaminated plots of land — and its liabilities for their contamination — for nearly $4.4 million. Grace asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., to allow it to sell the industrial properties so the land can be cleaned up and so Grace can save money.

A federal jury in Texas sided with D.C.-based Blackboard Inc. in a patent case against rival Desire2Learn that pitted two leading education software developers in a dispute closely watched by campus technology officers. Blackboard argued Desire2Learn infringed on patents that cover some of the basic designs used in software for running online courses.

Circuit City Stores Inc. investor Mark Wattles nominated five candidates to join the board of the money-losing electronics chain. Wattles Capital Management controls 6.5 percent of the Richmond-based discounter’s shares. Circuit City lost customers to larger Best Buy Co. after the company fired 10 percent of its U.S. work force and replaced them with people willing to work for less.

Richmond newspaper owner and television broadcaster Media General Inc., under pressure from investor Harbinger Capital Partners to boost its share price, agreed to buy DealTaker.com, an online social shopping site, from Narae Enterprises Inc. for an undisclosed sum. DealTaker.com lets consumers compare prices for more than 15 million products.


Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told a forum in the United Arab Emirates that opposition to investments by Gulf and Asian sovereign wealth funds in the United States is driven by protectionism and does not serve U.S. interests. “I think that is extraordinarily counterproductive” because the United States has gained much from globalization, Mr. Greenspan said.

Getty Images Inc., the leading seller of stock photography and video footage, agreed to a $2.1 billion buyout from private equity group Hellman & Friedman. Ten-year-old Getty, whose nearest competitor is privately held Corbis Corp., put itself up for sale in January after its stock took a beating on Wall Street for two years.

IBM Corp. rolls out a new mainframe computer today boasting a 50 percent performance boost and dramatically lower energy costs than its predecessor. The new System z10, with a starting price at about $1 million, comes as IBM focuses on lowering the price tag for running its storied line of data-crunching workhorses.

Five former insurance company executives were found guilty of a scheme to manipulate the financial statements of AIG, the world’s largest insurance company. The defendants, four former executives of General Re Corp. and a former executive of AIG, sat stone-faced as the verdict was read. They were accused of inflating AIG’s reserves to artificially boost its stock price.

New York Times Co. investor Harbinger Capital Partners, seeking board representation on the family-controlled newspaper publisher, increased its stake to 19 percent, according to a regulatory filing.

John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp. won permission from the Federal Communications Commission to purchase a controlling stake in DirecTV Group Inc., the largest U.S. satellite TV service. The FCC approved the transfer of DirecTV shares from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., subject to conditions.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, considering ways to increase disclosure about the potential risks of investing in hedge funds, may require fund managers to reveal the names of their auditors and brokers. The SEC said its staff is working on a rule that would force hedge funds to provide information about companies or persons hired by the fund.

The Supreme Court rejected a tobacco industry request to intervene in a lawsuit by more than a thousand West Virginia smokers. The justices declined to examine a trial procedure in which a jury first determines whether smokers as a group are entitled to punitive damages before establishing whether any single smoker is entitled to compensation.

Clear Channel Communications Inc. has agreed to drop the price of its television group by $100 million in an effort to preserve a deal with a private equity firm, a source said. Clear Channel and Providence Equity Partners, a firm that controls the buyer for the 56 stations, agreed in principle to cut the price on the deal that had been valued at $1.2 billion, the source said.

Online advertising revenue exceeded $21 billion for the first time in 2007, although preliminary data compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau also suggest growth is slowing. Ad revenue grew 25 percent last year from nearly $17 billion in 2006, less than the 35 percent growth seen in 2006 over 2005.

Ford Motor Co. could announce next week that it is selling the British Jaguar and Land Rover brands to India’s Tata Motors Ltd., a British union said. A spokesman for the Unite union said that a sale may occur as soon as March 5. Ford said in January that Tata was the preferred bidder for the units.

Starbucks is bringing back a former executive to guide the coffee company’s global expansion. Arthur Rubinfeld has the newly created position of president, Global Development. He will be responsible for site selection, design and creative concepts for Starbucks stores worldwide.


Gold fell the most in almost two weeks after the United States said it would back “limited” sales of bullion reserves by the International Monetary Fund, the third-largest holder of the precious metal, to cover a revenue shortfall. The price of gold has more than tripled in the past seven years. Gold futures for April delivery declined $7.30, or 0.8 percent, to $940.50 an ounce in New York.

Gold Fields Ltd. may lay off 6,900 workers because of electricity shortages in South Africa, the continent’s second-largest gold producer said. The biggest mine workers’ union immediately threatened to strike.

Shares of Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC rose 7.2 percent after a British newspaper reported that the Qatari government is considering a stake in Britain’s second-largest lender. The Qatar Investment Authority is considering taking a stake in RBS as part of a $15 billion investment in European and U.S. banks, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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