IN BRIEF

Speaker to offer tips at chamber luncheon

The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce will present “Surviving in a Tough Economy: Making the Right Business Decisions When There’s No Margin For Error” at its monthly luncheon, running at 11:30 a.m. to

1 p.m. Wednesday at the Four Seasons, 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

Innovative Management Group President Mac McIntire will share strategies to help businesses readjust their operations to better meet consumers’ needs in this challenging economy.

Luncheon admission is $50 for chamber members, $65 for nonmembers and $70 for walk-ins. Call 641-5822 or visit www.lvchamber.com for details.

Research in Motion will open online store

Research In Motion Ltd. will open an online applications store for its BlackBerry phones within a month, intensifying competition with Apple Inc. for consumers.

The BlackBerry App World site will begin offering games, networking software and music applications by then, spokeswoman Tenille Kennedy said. RIM said earlier that the store would open in March. Developers will get 80 percent of the royalties while RIM gets the rest, compared with a 70-30 split at Apple.

Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner Inc. analyst in London said RIM may unveil the store April 1 at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas, where RIM co-Chief Executive Officer Mike Lazaridis is speaking. Kennedy wouldn’t say whether the store will debut at the conference.

LV Sands denies report that it may sell license

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the casino operator controlled by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, denied a Hong Kong newspaper report that it may sell its gambling license in Macau.

“We worked very hard to earn the concession and we have no intention of selling the license,” Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese told Bloomberg News on Thursday.

Ming Pao Daily, a Chinese-language newspaper, cited unidentified people as saying a Chinese tycoon is interested in taking over Las Vegas Sands’ operations in Macau, including its gambling license.

Adelson on March 10 said he’s in talks with four groups of potential investors and that he’s traveling to China next week to meet with two construction companies that may invest in the company’s stalled $12 billion Macau project. Las Vegas Sands’ founder and chief executive officer has also said the company is meeting with a group and an investor with “a very, very deep pocket” who are interested in buying its “existing cash flowing properties.”

NEW YORK

Roche buys Genentech stake for $46.8 billion

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche agreed Thursday to pay $46.8 billion in cash to buy the 44 percent of California-based biotech pioneer Genentech that it doesn’t already own, ending a long corporate struggle between the companies.

The deal, which values the whole of Genentech at more than $100 billion, underscores the lengths drugmakers are willing to go to to shore up weak pipelines of new drugs. And investors and the industry will be watching to see if Roche can preserve the unique research culture that helped Genentech all but start the biotech industry.

The $95-per-share deal brings Roche, whose best-known products include the flu treatment Tamiflu and the tranquilizer Valium, all of the sales of Genentech’s highly profitable cancer drugs as well as its promising research pipeline and scientific corporate culture.

OTTAWA

Official: Chrysler could close plants in Canada

A top Chrysler official issued a grim threat to Canadian lawmakers, warning the struggling U.S. automaker may shut down its plants in Canada if it doesn’t get significant labor concessions and government aid.

“Chrysler LLC cannot afford to manufacture products in a jurisdiction that is uncompetitive, relative to other jurisdictions,” president Tom LaSorda told a Parliamentary committee Wednesday night.

Chrysler’s labor costs in Canada work out to about $20 an hour more than automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., LaSorda told the committee.

The automaker also asked for roughly $2.3 billion from the Canadian and Ontario governments and demanded relief in a tax dispute with Ottawa.

MILWAUKEE

Smithfield Foods posts loss for third quarter

Smithfield Foods Inc. reported a third-quarter loss Thursday that was less than analysts predicted and said its performance would improve as it focuses on the packaged meats business, where it can make more money.

Smithfield said it lost $103.1 million in its quarter that ended Feb. 1, or 72 cents per share, as feed costs rose and it absorbed a big restructuring charge. That compares with a profit of $54.5 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales rose 7 percent to $3.35 billion.

CHICAGO

Sears Tower will go by new name, officials say

For Chicagoans it may be the architectural equivalent of having to watch Michael Jordan finish his career in a Washington Wizards uniform: The Sears Tower is turning into something called the Willis Tower.

That’s right, the tallest building in the United States is getting a new name later this year, building management said Thursday.

It’s all part of a deal with London-based Willis Group Holdings. Along with moving 500 employees into 140,000 square feet on multiple floors of the 110-story building this summer, the Willis Group gets the naming rights as part of its lease agreement with the real estate investment group that owns Sears Tower.

INDIANAPOLIS

Employers less sure benefits will continue

Large employers have lost some confidence they’ll continue to offer health benefits, according to a survey from the consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

Sixty-two percent of employers were “very confident” they will still offer benefits 10 years from now, according to the survey, which was conducted late last year and in January. That’s down from 73 percent last year.

The drop marked the first decrease in employer confidence in the 14 years the survey has been conducted, Arlington, Va.-based Watson Wyatt said. It did the survey with the National Business Group on Health.

The survey involved 489 U.S. employers across the country, each with anywhere from 1,000 employees to more than 25,000. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

NEW YORK

Treasury prices increase after auction of bonds

Treasury prices rose Thursday after the government auctioned $11 billion in 30-year bonds to robust demand.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.44 points to 99.03. Its yield fell to 2.89 percent from 2.91 percent late Wednesday. Prices move opposite yields.

The 30-year bond rose 0.94 points to 98.03, and its yield fell to 3.63 percent from 3.66 percent.

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