Business Highlights


Hughes Corp. files plans for initial sale of public stock

The Howard Hughes Corp., a spinoff from troubled shopping mall owner General Growth Properties Inc., has filed plans for an initial sale of public stock.

The Chicago-based company said in a filing Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it will offer 22.3 million shares for sale and warrants for the purchase of up to 8 million shares.

The company said private-equity firm Blackstone Real Estate Partners VI LP and other investors have agreed to buy shares at $47.62 each.

After the offering, the company said it would have 37.7 million outstanding shares, plus the warrants for additional stock.

The company plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "HHC."

According to the filing, Hughes will specialize in developing master-planned communities and other real estate projects.

General Growth filed the largest real estate bankruptcy case in U.S. history last year. On Thursday, a bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan that will let the shopping mall owner emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection next month after repaying creditors in full.

Shareholders will own stock in General Growth and the newly formed Hughes.

General Electric unit plans to buy diagnostics company

General Electric Co. said Friday its health care unit will buy diagnostics company Clarient Inc. in a deal aimed at speeding its expansion into cancer diagnostic and therapy selection tools.

GE Healthcare officials say the deal will help them build a $1 billion-plus business developing integrated diagnostic solutions for cancer and other diseases.

GE said it will start a cash tender offer to pay $5 per share for Clarient common stock, a 34 percent premium over their closing price on Thursday and $20 for each preferred share.

GE said the deal values Clarient at about $580 million, net of cash and investments. A spokeswoman declined to offer a breakdown on how much the share purchases would cost.

But Safeguard Scientifics Inc., which owns a 26 percent stake in Clarient, said the deal values Clarient at $587 million.

Clarient shares jumped $1.24, or 33 percent, to $4.98 in Friday morning trading, while GE stock slipped 4 cents to $16.06. Safeguard shares rose $1.05, or more than 7 percent, to $14.75.


Google tightening policies on privacy for its employees

Google Inc. is tightening its privacy leash on employees in an effort to ensure they don't intrude on people while the Internet search leader collects and stores information about its users.

Besides promoting longtime employee Alma Whitten to be its director of privacy, Google said Friday that it will require all 23,000 of its employees to undergo privacy training. The company also is introducing more checks aimed at making sure workers are obeying the rules.

Google's tougher privacy measures appear to be a response to recent breaches that have raised questions about the company's internal controls and policies.


HP selling Windows 7 tablet for business users

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s new tablet might look a little bit like Apple Inc.'s latest blockbuster gadget, but it's no iPad killer.

HP, the world's largest computer maker, unveiled the Slate 500 on Thursday.

It costs $79. Like the iPad,it has a gesture-sensitive touchscreen and no keyboard. But unlike the iPad, the device is aimed squarely at business users.

The Slate 500 runs Windows 7, the same Microsoft Corp. operating system found on modern PCs. It also has a webcam, memory card slot, ports to plug in headphones and a USB port for accessories such as a keyboards.


Verizon posts 25 percent profit drop for third quarter

Verizon Communications Inc., the country's largest wireless carrier, on Friday said its profit fell 25 percent in the third quarter, held back by a one-time charge for a pension settlement and the performance of its landline operations, which barely broke even.

The results show how Verizon has its feet in two worlds: that of the declining traditional phone company and the burgeoning, highly profitable cell phone company.

Verizon's landline business posted operating income of $19 million for the July to September quarter, compared to $4.9 billion on the wireless side.


Honeywell earnings fall because of pension charge

A noncash pension charge pushed Honeywell International Inc.'s third-quarter earnings down 18 percent, but the company reported a strong revenue increase on sales of automotive turbochargers, general industrial products and commercial aviation equipment.

The technology and manufacturing company beat Wall Street estimates and it boosted its earnings forecast for the year.

Honeywell on Friday reported net income of $499 million, or 64 cents per share, compared with $608 million, or 80 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue for the quarter grew by 9 percent to $8.39 billion.

Caterpillar to buy German engine firm for $810 million

Caterpillar's plans to acquire German engine maker, MWM Holding GmbH, should invigorate its engine division and help the world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment continue to grow.

Caterpillar Inc. said Friday that it would pay private-equity firm 3i for 580 million euros, or about $810 million, in cash for MWM.

Caterpillar said the deal will help it significantly expand options for customers of its electric power division. MWM, which stands for Motoren-Werke Mannheim, specializes in combustion engines for natural gas, special gases and diesel.


Amazon to extend option of lending to users of Kindle Inc. is going to allow the lending of e-books purchased from its Kindle Store.

The online retailer announced the upcoming feature in a discussion forum for the Kindle on its website Friday, saying that later in the year it will start letting Kindle users and people who use its free Kindle apps loan books to others for a two-week period. During the loan, the book's owner will not be able to read the book, Amazon said.

Only some Kindle books will be available for lending; Amazon said that the decision is up to the book's publisher or rights holder.

Amazon's most recently released Kindle sells for $139 and uses Wi-Fi to wirelessly download content from the Kindle Store. A version with Wi-Fi and 3G data network access costs $189, and a version with these same wireless connection options and a larger screen called the Kindle DX sells for $379.

Amazon also offers a slew of apps that allow anyone to read Kindle content on mobile devices such as smart phones and Apple's iPad, and on computers.

The Kindle will not be the first e-reader to get a lending feature; Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook e-reader also has such a feature that lets users loan books between other Nooks and gadgets that have the free Nook software.