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In Brief

Harrah’s abandons effort to operate casino in Kansas

Harrah’s Entertainment has pulled the plug on its latest effort to operate a casino in Kansas.

The Las Vegas-based company told state authorities Wednesday it was dropping efforts to build a casino in Sumner County in the city of Mulvane, which is south of Wichita.

"After careful consideration and discussion with the Kansas Lottery Commission, Harrah’s has decided to withdraw its application for the south central zone gaming license in Kansas," company officials said in an e-mailed statement.

Harrah’s explored casino opportunities in Kansas in 2008, but withdrew from the process that year, citing economic reasons.

Broker hired to arrange sale of Trump Marina in Atlantic City

CB Richard Ellis’ Global Gaming Group of Las Vegas has been brought in by Trump Entertainment Resorts to sell the Trump Marina in Atlantic City.

The casino operator recently emerged from bankruptcy and is controlled by a group of bondholders led by Avenue Capital.

Trump Entertainment CEO Mark Juliano said the company’s plan is to concentrate on the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza and sell the property that isn’t on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk.

Global Gaming Group Executive Vice President John Knott said Atlantic City, despite 23 straight months of declining gaming revenues, is ripe for investment.

He said plans announced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to revitalize the gaming market have the support of 69 percent of New Jersey residents, according to a recent poll.

Trump Marina is in the Atlantic City marina district.

The property opened in 1985 as Trump’s Castle Hotel Casino and was renamed the Trump Marina in 1997. The hotel has 728 rooms, a 79,000-square-foot casino, and 30,500 square feet of convention and meeting space.


Slower economic growth spreading, Fed survey finds

The economy lost strength in late summer as factory production weakened in areas of the East Coast and Midwest.

A survey the Federal Reserve released Wednesday found the slower growth spreading to more regions of the country.

Of the 12 regions the Fed tracks, economic activity slowed or was mixed in five — New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago and Richmond, Va. Activity elsewhere was described as modest or pointed to positive developments.

In the Fed’s previous survey in late July, only two regions — Atlanta and Chicago — reported slower growth.

The Fed survey also found that five regions — St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas, San Francisco and Kansas City, Mo., all reported modest growth. And two regions — Boston and Cleveland — reported improved economic activity.


Air Products’ sweeter offer rejected by Airgas board

Airgas Inc. board members have unanimously rejected a sweetened $5.5 billion buyout offer from rival Air Products and Chemicals Inc.

Airgas said Wednesday the offer of $65.50 per share still grossly undervalues the company and is only a $2 hike from Air Products’ previous offer.

The company also advised its shareholders to reject some director candidates and bylaw amendment proposals from Air Products at the Airgas annual meeting Sept. 15.

Air Products, of Allentown, Pa., sells gases for industrial, medical and other uses. Airgas, of Radnor, Pa., sells industrial and medical gases and provides gas equipment, welding products, tools and safety gear.

The companies have haggled over a possible deal for months. Air Products announced a bid in February that amounted to about $5.1 billion, or $60 per share.

On Monday, Air Products raised its offer from a previous price of $63.50 per share.


GM chief says company’s cars must be better than rivals’

General Motors’ new CEO told employees that the automaker needs to make cars and trucks that are better than those of competitors such as BMW.

Former telecommunications executive Daniel Akerson, in his first webcast to employees since taking over as CEO Sept. 1, said the company needs to go into "attack mode" to stay ahead of rivals, according to a worker who watched the speech on Wednesday.

The 61-year-old Akerson told employees that GM needs to keep competitors on their heels rather than responding to what they do, said the worker, who asked not to be identified because the webcast was not public.

Akerson used BMW as an example, saying that GM’s Cadillac luxury brand has to make cars that are better than BMW’s 300, 500 and 700 series sedans.

Through August, BMW has sold 139,236 vehicles, beating Cadillac by almost 47,000 cars and trucks, according to Autodata Corp.


Ex-Hewlett-Packard chief’s base salary set at Oracle

Oracle Corp. plans to pay newly appointed co-President Mark Hurd a base salary of $950,000 annually and said the ousted Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO is eligible for a target bonus of $5 million in the current fiscal year.

Oracle released the details of Hurd’s pay package in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Hurd’s pay package includes stock options totaling 10 million shares. The company said Hurd’s options will carry an exercise price equal to the market value of the shares on the date they are granted, which the filing did not specify. If he stays with the company, Hurd will be awarded options to buy 5 million shares each year for the next five years.

Oracle said Hurd’s bonus for fiscal 2011, which ends in May, is targeted at $5 million but could reach $10 million. The company did not specify the conditions under which the bonuses would be awarded.


Report says mystery bidder for Casey’s is 7-Eleven

Convenience store operator 7-Eleven Inc. is the mystery bidder for Casey’s General Stores Inc. that is trying to top a Canadian rival, a published report says.

Casey’s, based in Ankeny, Iowa, operates a chain of convenience stores in the Midwest. It has rejected several offers by Canadian company Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., including the latest bid of $38.50, which it shot down Tuesday.

At that time, Casey’s also said it had received a higher bid at $40 from an unnamed party. The company said the bid was also too low but it agreed to further talks with the suitor.

The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the deal it did not identify, reported Wednesday that 7-Eleven is the company making the bid.

7-Eleven and Casey’s declined to comment.

The 7-Eleven bid, valued at $2.03 billion, would significantly outstrip the offer by Couche-Tarde at $1.47 billion, which excludes about $528 million in Casey’s debt.


Bond investors snap up $21 billion in 10-year notes

Who’s worried about ballooning federal debt? Apparently not bond investors. The Treasury Department sold $21 billion in 10-year notes on Wednesday at the lowest rate since January 2009.

The auction of 10-year notes fetched a 2.67 percent yield, as buyers placed bids for 3.21 times the amount offered. The next lowest yield at an auction of 10-year notes came in January 2009, in the midst of the financial crisis.

Wednesday’s sale was the second of three Treasury auctions expected to raise $67 billion this week. On Tuesday, the government sold $33 billion in three-year notes at a record low of 0.79 percent.

So why are the world’s investors so eager to lend to the U.S. government? It’s a reflection of the turbulent times.

The more pessimistic the prospects for economic growth, the more appealing safer bets like U.S. bonds look, even though the government’s budget deficit may top $1.3 trillion this fiscal year.

The 10-year yield ended the trading day at 2.66 percent, up from 2.60 percent on Tuesday. Its price fell 59 cents to $99.65.


Searching for something? Google Instant may know what

Google Inc. stepped on its Internet search accelerator Wednesday by adding a feature that displays results as soon as people begin typing their requests.

The change, called Google Instant, is the closest the 12-year-old company has come yet to realizing its founders’ ambition to build a search engine that reads its users’ minds.

The shift means Google users will begin to see an ever-evolving set of search results appearing on their computer screens, potentially changing with each additional character typed. That means a satisfactory set of results could take just one keystroke.

As an example, a person who types "w" in Google’s search box could see the weather results in the same area as where the request was entered.

Google will also try to predict what a person really wants by filling out the anticipated search terms in gray letters. Below that, in a drop-down box, Google will still offer other suggested search requests, as the site has been offering for the past two years.

The feature will be gradually rolled out throughout the U.S. this week and will be offered in other parts of the world later this year. It’s designed to work on the latest versions of the major Web browsers.

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