In Brief


SEC pushes to keep details about investigations secret

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday the public shouldn’t be able to see details of the SEC’s policing of financial firms because it could make the agency’s job harder.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told a House panel that the agency needs the exemption for some cases because firms won’t provide information voluntarily if they know it could be viewed by anyone, including competitors.

Lawmakers want to close a loophole in the new financial overhaul law that allows the SEC an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act. Those records are related to its monitoring of firms such as hedge funds and investment advisers.

Legislation is moving through Congress and is backed by open-government advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Society of Professional Journalists and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.


Dell will spend $100 billion on new production center in China

Dell Inc. is making a $100 billion bet that China will remain one of the fastest-growing markets for personal computers over the next decade.

Dell said Thursday it plans to open a manufacturing, sales and service center in Chengdu in 2011 that could eventually employ more than 3,000 workers. The new operations center is a response to rapid growth in business in Western China, Dell said.

China has been courting foreign investors for projects in its western regions as a matter of policy for more than a decade. Dell would not say what sort of incentives it was offered to construct new facilities in Chengdu.

Over the next decade, the company said it expects to spend about $100 billion on China operations. It spent $23 billion in China in 2009.


FedEx announces layoffs even though quarterly profits soar

FedEx Corp. said Thursday that although strength in international shipments is boosting net income, FedEx is cutting 1,700 jobs in its U.S. freight business to offset losses there.

The world’s second-largest package delivery company said first-quarter net income doubled. The Memphis, Tenn., company earned $380 million, or $1.20 per share, in the fiscal first quarter that ended Aug. 31, compared with $181 million, or 58 cents per share, a year ago. That’s slightly under the $1.21 per share that Wall Street expected.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $9.46 billion.


RIM chief optimistic security disputes will be resolved

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. believes it will successfully resolve disputes with India, the United Arab Emirates and other countries over data security and avert their threats to ban services, the company’s co-CEO said Thursday.

Jim Balsillie’s remarks came as the company said its second-quarter earnings jumped 68 percent as it added new BlackBerry subscribers and beat analysts’ expectations at a time many have started to write the company off.

RIM shares increased 8 percent in extended trading, even before Balsillie spoke on the negotiations.

BlackBerry shipments climbed 45 percent to 12.1 million from a year ago. That comes amid concerns that RIM is losing ground to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices using Google Inc.’s Android software.


Boeing plans to increase production of 737 jets

Boeing Co. said on Thursday that it will increase production of its workhorse 737 to 38 per month.

Boeing now makes the planes at a rate of just more than one a day and was planning to speed that up.

The company said it will make 38 of the planes every month by the second quarter of 2013 because of strong customer demand.

Just a few weeks ago a Boeing executive said the company was thinking about making as many as 40 of the planes per month. On Thursday, Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx said there is still upward pressure on the production rate.


Rejected Casey’s suitor will take case to shareholders

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is going straight to the shareholders of Casey’s General Stores Inc., ignoring the convenience store operator’s rejection of its approximately $2.03 billion takeover offer and saying it’s willing to boost its bid further.

In an open letter to shareholders Thursday, Couche-Tard said it would consider raising its $38.50 a share offer if it is allowed to perform a confirmatory due diligence review of Casey’s.

Couche-Tard, which runs the Circle K chain in the U.S., has made several bids for Casey’s. But Casey’s, an operator of a chain of convenience stores in the Midwest, maintained on Tuesday that Couche-Tard’s $38.50 per share offer is too low.

Couche-Tard appealed to stockholders in its open letter, explaining that its bid is not much lower than that of 7-Eleven Inc., which has offered $40 a share in cash, or $2.04 billion. The Canadian company claims that Casey’s has rejected its request to hold talks, but is willing to have discussions with 7-Eleven. Casey’s said on Tuesday that it does not believe talks are necessary on Couche-Tard’s $38.50-per-share bid.

Casey’s has also expressed concern that Couche-Tard has not given enough details on how it would fund a potential deal. But Couche-Tard said Thursday that it has secured up to $1.5 billion in financing that will be combined with available funds to pay for the acquisition.

The company pressed Casey’s stockholders to vote for its eight board nominees. Casey’s annual shareholders meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23.

Shares of Casey’s, based in Ankeny, Iowa, dropped 59 cents to $43.30.

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