An arrest, a resignation and a corruption trial top our roundup of the day's top business news stories. At least "Cinderella" looks to live happily ever after.
“Cinderella” Has Fairy Tale Opening Weekend
Disney worked its magic at the box office with “Cinderella,” a live-action version of the classic fairy tale, which brought in &70.1 million in the U.S. and Canada. This is the third largest Disney opening for the month of March behind the live-action “Alice in Wonderland” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” Moviegoers were also taken with Liam Neeson, once again in action mode, in “Run All Night,” which launched with about $11 million. “Kingman: The Secret Service,” in its fifth week in release, came in third with $6.2 million, followed by “Focus” with $5.8 million and “Chappie.” Also over the weekend, “Fifty Shades of Grey” hit $546.5 million, making it Universal’s 10th highest grossing film in global ticket sales. Disney also announced that Oscar-winner “Big Hero 6” was the No. 1 animated feature of last year, grossing more than $620 million worldwide.
Durst Arrested: “Killed Them All, Of Course”
In the finale to HBO’s critically acclaimed documentary mini-series, “The Jinx,” real estate heir Robert Durst is overheard making what appears to be a confession in the unsolved murder of friend Susan Berman, who was found shot execution-style in her California home 15 years ago. Prior to Sunday’s broadcast, the FBI, who had been investigating Durst apart from the documentary, arrested him in a New Orleans Mariott on Saturday afternoon. Durst has also been connected to, but never convicted, the murders of his wife, who disappeared in 1982, and a neighbor, who was murdered and dismembered.
After Five Years, Algerian Corruption Scandal Goes to Trial
The trial began Sunday for one of Algeria's most notorious corruption scandals involving the state-run oil company that generates most of the country's revenue, the Associated Press reports. The ambassadors of Italy, the U.S. and Germany were in attendance as prosecutors read out the charges against former head of Sonatrach, Mohammed Meziane, his two sons, and 16 other company officials. The scandal was revealed in 2009. Charges include influence peddling, inflating contract prices, money laundering and generally skimming off millions of dollars in bribes. At the end of the trial’s first day, the judge adjourned proceedings to a date within the next three months after 38 of the 108 witnesses called were not present.
Romania’s Finance Minister Resigns
Darius Valcov, Romania's finance minister has resigned amid an investigation into suspicions that he took 2 million euros ($2.1 million) in bribes when he was a mayor. Valcov handed in his resignation Sunday evening, hours after President Klaus Iohannis urged the prime minister to fire him, the Associated Press reports. Valcov was charged on Friday with influence peddling, saying he was suspected of favoring a local businessman when he was mayor of Slatina in exchange for a 20-percent kickback. Prosecutors say he received the bribes between 2010 and 2013. He denies wrongdoing.
GE Sells Australian Lending Operation
In a deal valued at roughly $6.3 billion, General Electric is selling another segment of its financial business, transferring its GE Capital consumer-lending operation in Australia and New Zealand to a group of investors. Buyers include Varde Partners, a Minneapolis-based global investment firm, along with the investment firm KKR & Co. and DeutscheBank. GE Capital provides personal loans and credit cards to about 3 million consumers in Australia and New Zealand, along with financial services for major retailers, the company said Sunday. GE has recently spun off other lending units in North America and Europe
Tesla to Put Brakes on “Range Anxiety"
Tesla Motors Inc. will introduce a software update to its Model S vehicle designed to ease driver fears that they will run out of power. The update will be introduced at a press conference scheduled for this Thursday, Chief Executive Elon Musk said Sunday in a tweet. Many electric cars can't go much more than 100 miles per charge. Tesla models have a federal rating of 265 miles per charge for the largest battery pack, but that may not quell drivers’ so-called “range anxiety.”