Business briefs 11/14/07

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wal-Mart beats earnings expectations

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- A year after its worst holiday sales season ever, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may rebound to have a good season after finding the right mix of merchandise and marketing to complement its return to a focus on low prices. A whiff of this already showed up when the nation's largest retailer posted third-quarter earnings Tuesday of $2.86 billion, an 8 percent rise that beat Wall Street expectations.

Billionaire offers to buy Wendy's chain

DUBLIN, Ohio -- Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz submitted an offer to buy Wendy's International Inc., but the proposed price is below what he previously said the nation's third-largest hamburger chain is worth, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday. Peltz's Triarc Co., which owns fast-food chain Arby's, submitted the bid Monday, according to the filing by Peltz's hedge fund, Trian Fund Management LP. In April, Wendy's formed a committee to look at ways the company could boost its stock price, including a possible sale. In July, Triarc offered to buy Wendy's for $37 to $41 per share, or $3.2 billion to $3.6 billion. The filing said Triarc's proposed price is below the range indicated over the summer.

Oil prices slide away from $100 mark

NEW YORK -- Oil prices that last week seemed on an inexorable path toward $100 a barrel slid more than $3 to the $91 level Tuesday after the International Energy Agency cut its demand forecasts and said crude supplies are rising. Prices also fell after diplomats said Iran has handed over blueprints key to its nuclear program, meeting a United Nations demand and potentially defusing the country's standoff with the West.

European regulators investigate Google

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- European Union antitrust regulators launched an in-depth probe Tuesday into Google Inc.'s $3.1 billion bid for online ad broker DoubleClick, saying an initial investigation showed the deal would raise competition concerns. The EU's executive Commission set an April 2 deadline by which to reach a final decision on the deal, which has raised concerns by Google rivals Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. -- both of which fear it will give the Internet search leader too much power in online advertising. The European Commission described Google and DoubleClick as "the leading providers" of online advertising space and services as well as ad-serving technology, and said its extended probe would examine whether the deal "could lead to anticompetitive restrictions for competitors."

Yahoo settles suit by Chinese journalists

SAN FRANCISCO -- Yahoo Inc., reeling from a growing backlash over human rights and its China operations, settled a lawsuit Tuesday that accused it of illegally helping the Chinese government jail and torture two journalists. Neither side disclosed details other than to agree Yahoo would pay the attorneys fees of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning and the family member who sued on their behalf. It marked a dramatic change of heart for Yahoo, which had steadfastly maintained it had to comply with a request from Chinese authorities to share information about the online activities of the two Chinese nationals.

-- From wire reports

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