- - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS — Sprinkles, the Beverly Hills bakery that helped inspire the craze for sweet frosting in snack-size portions, will launch a cupcake-dispensing machine at its flagship store.

The first high-tech vending machine rolled out on Tuesday, with three more in the works for New York City by the summer, said founder and owner Candace Nelson.

The ATM-like machine features a touch screen and a robotic arm that pulls the right flavored cupcake from a wall of single-serving boxes inside the store.

Ms. Nelson said the custom-built gadget is in response to demand for increased hours at the popular store.

“After dinner people want a cupcake. But we can’t be open all night long because of our poor employees. So we’ll just stock it fresh before they leave for the evening and it’ll be good to go,” she said.

The machines will be restocked constantly throughout the day so the goods stay fresh.

Ms. Nelson said she was inspired to make the sugary treats available 24-7 when she realized that she couldn’t satisfy her own late-night cravings.

“I was pregnant with my second child and I thought, I’m the owner of a cupcake bakery and even I can’t get a cupcake in the middle of the night,” she said.

Customers think the vending machines are a sweet idea.

“You can never have too much access to your cupcakes,” said Patrick Swope of Rogers, Ark., who was visiting the Sprinkles New York City shop with his family.


1 WTC seeks broadcast antenna to lure stations

NEW YORK — Officials at the 1,776-foot World Trade Center tower want to install a broadcast antenna in an effort to attract radio and television stations currently broadcasting from the Empire State Building.

The senior vice president of the Durst Organization, Thomas Bow, tells the Wall Street Journal the development firm wants the tower to become the premiere broadcast facility in New York City, just like the original towers had been before the terrorist attacks in 2001.

A spokesman for Malkin Holdings, an owner of the Empire State Building, declined to comment.

Durst says it expects to be able to take in about $10 million a year in rents and fees from potential broadcasters.

The tower is currently under construction. It’s expected to be completed at the end of 2013.


Peugeot to raise $1.3B for alliance with GM

PARIS — French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen announced Tuesday it is looking to raise (euro) 1 billion ($1.3 billion) in new capital to fund its tie-up with U.S. giant General Motors.

The companies, which are struggling in Europe’s fiercely competitive, oversupplied car market, said last week that sharing vehicle platforms and pooling the purchasing of components and services will save them $2 billion a year within five years. The benefits are expected to be split roughly equally.

The combination of a large number of manufacturers and low prices has heaped the pressure on carmakers.

The subscription rights issue laid out in a statement Tuesday will offer 16 new shares for 31 existing shares at a price of (euro) 8.27 ($10.84). That’s a significant discount from Peugeot’s closing price of (euro) 14.205 ($18.62) on Monday.

In early morning trading on the Paris bourse, the company’s shares fell 6.5 percent to (euro) 13.295 ($17.43).

Peugeot said that it and GM had already agreed to take 31 percent of the shares issued.


KKR, Chesapeake collaborate on energy investment

HOUSTON — Investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. are teaming up to invest in mineral and royalty interests in key U.S. oil and gas basins.

“Driven predominantly by the recent advancements in unconventional oil and gas technology, we continue to see attractive opportunities to invest behind the domestic exploration and production of oil and gas,” KKR director Robert Antablin said in a statement. Mr. Antablin leads the New York company’s royalties investment strategy.

Investment firms are playing a bigger role in the oil and gas sector, as Cheniere Energy said last week that it will receive $2 billion in financing from The Blackstone Group to fund the construction of a natural gas export plant in Louisiana.

KKR has invested in the energy sector for more than 20 years, beginning with an investment in Union Texas Petroleum in 1985.

KKR and Chesapeake said Tuesday that they will initially contribute a combined $250 million to the partnership. Chesapeake, the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S., will pay 10 percent of that amount and source, acquire and manage the royalty investment opportunities.

The companies will jointly oversee the partnership.


BP settlement architects hope to win over skeptics

NEW ORLEANS — The deal is all but done. Now it’s time to sell it.

Days after they announced a multibillion-dollar settlement, BP PLC and a committee of plaintiffs’ attorneys are working out details of an agreement to resolve more than 100,000 claims spawned by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

They must persuade a federal judge that the settlement is fair and equitable, but the sales job doesn’t end there because the deal already has its critics.

Some attorneys who didn’t participate in the settlement talks but represent thousands of plaintiffs question whether the court-supervised claims process offers a better bargain for their clients than the $20 billion compensation fund BP established in 2010. They can urge their clients not to participate in the settlement, though pursuing a claim separately in court could involve years of costly litigation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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