Gevity chooses president/COO
By TIMES WIRE
Published December 21, 2005
Gevity, a Bradenton employee management company, has appointed Roy King to the new position of president and chief operating officer. King was president and chief executive of Security Source Inc., a security software company.
AOL, Google users to message each other
America Online on Tuesday sealed a $1-billion transaction to sell a 5 percent stake to Google Inc. In a significant twist in Tuesday's expected official announcement, users of AOL's Internet-leading instant messaging service will be able to communicate with the users of Google's 4-month-old service. Microsoft and Yahoo Inc., major rivals of Google and AOL, plan to link their instant messaging services next year.
Kerkorian drops GM stake to 7.8 percent
Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian reduced his stake in General Motors Corp. to 7.8 percent, taking a loss on his investment in order to qualify for a tax break, according to a regulatory filing. Kerkorian - who has lobbied for more say in GM's operations and a seat on the automaker's board - owned nearly 10 percent of the company's shares at the beginning of December. Kerkorian's company, Tracinda, said it sold the shares so it can end its fiscal year with a capital loss, making it eligible for federal and California tax breaks.
Sprint Nextel buys out Nextel Partners
Sprint Nextel Corp. said Tuesday it would buy outstanding shares of Nextel Partners Inc. in a deal valued at $6.5-billion, or $28.50 per share, settling a legal battle with its largest affiliate. Nextel Partners shareholders had approved a provision in October that required Sprint Nextel to buy the two-thirds of the company it doesn't own.
Home construction jumps in November
New home construction unexpectedly increased in November at the fastest pace in seven months in what could be a final flourish for the nation's 5-year-old housing boom. The Commerce Department reported construction activity rose by 5.3 percent in November from the October pace, when housing construction had fallen by 6.6 percent.
Exxon Mobil, BP sued
An antitrust lawsuit filed against Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC claims the oil giants are conspiring to crush competition and restrict the nation's supply of natural gas. The suit was filed Monday by the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, a coalition of local government officials that seeks to build an 800-mile natural-gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope to the port of Valdez, where up to 4.5-billion cubic feet of gas per day would be liquefied and shipped in refrigerated tankers to West Coast markets.
Big names get the word out: Wal-Mart works
With backing from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a committee including clergy, Hispanic activists and businesswomen launched a national group Tuesday to speak out in support of the world's largest retailer.
The steering committee of 16 people, partially funded by Wal-Mart, organized Working Families for Wal-Mart, whose job will be to talk about what they see as Wal-Mart's positive contributions.
"Wal-Mart opened a Supercenter in our community at a time of economic duress with manufacturing companies leaving. They created jobs and cut costs for people looking to stretch their dollars," said steering committee member Bishop Ira Combs, Jr., founder and pastor of the Greater Bible Way Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in Jackson, Mich.
Wal-Mart is the largest financial backer of the group, company spokeswoman Sarah Clark said, without providing details. The group launched www.forwalmart.com on Tuesday.
Your Happy Meal toy might talk to you
If the Walt Disney Co. has its way, McDonald's Happy Meal toys could be replaced with portable media players that hold Disney movies, music, games or photos, according to a pending patent application.
Users could add files to the devices by earning points with food purchases.
The plan could work something like this: A customer enters a restaurant and buys a meal, receiving the portable media player and an electronic code that authorizes a partial download of a movie, video or other media file, which can be downloaded while in the restaurant, according to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office application filed by Disney. Then, with each subsequent return, the customer earns more downloadable data, eventually getting an entire movie or game.
Earning a large file, like a movie, might require five trips - a compelling incentive for a customer to return to the restaurant.
But McDonald's customers should not plan on the devices appearing any time soon. Patent applications take an average of 30 months for final approval.
SPAM DOWN ... OR IS IT?: Those annoying "spam" e-mails for Viagra or low-rate mortgages that clog computer users' mailboxes appear to be on the decline, federal regulators said Tuesday. In a report to Congress, the Federal Trade Commission said the antispam law that took effect two years ago has helped curb unsolicited e-mail. The report also credits advances in technology, such as better spam filters that weed out junk e-mail. But the report was met with some skepticism. "For us, we have not seen one single instance where spam has actually gone down," said Jordan Ritter, co-founder of Cloudmark, an e-mail security firm in San Francisco.
Jabil Circuit Inc.: The St. Petersburg contract manufacturer of electronics products said quarterly profit rose 38 percent.
Morgan Stanley: The Wall Street investment firm saw its quarterly earnings climb 49 percent because of strong investment banking revenues and a surge in fixed-income trading.
Nike Inc.: The world's largest athletic shoe company said strong U.S. sales boosted profits 15 percent in a record second quarter. The Beaverton, Ore., company's results beat Wall Street predictions by more than a dime per share.
Information from the Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.
[Last modified December 21, 2005, 00:51:17]
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