Better-than-forecast consumer spending, a happy ending in the Amazon-Hachette standoff and Berkshire Hathaway's acquisition of Duracell top our roundup of the morning's top business news stories.
Consumer Spending Moves Up
The Commerce Department Friday said U.S. retail sales rose 0.5 percent in October when taking out the more volatile sales elements like gasoline, automobiles and food services. That gain is the biggest increase since August and just above analysts’ expectations of a 0.4 percent increase. September showed no change in retail sales. Gasoline retailers reported a 1.5 percent drop in receipts in October.
Final Chapter in Amazon and Hachette Standoff a Happy Ending
You can close the book on the months-long standoff between Amazon and publisher Hachette Book Group after both companies announced a multiyear agreement on the pricing of print books and e-books, USA TODAY. Under the new agreement, which will take effect early next year, Hachette will set the consumer prices of its e-books, which was one of the key sticking points in the contentious negotiations that played out in the press. Hachette's corporate parent, Lagardere, issued an earnings report Thursday showing an 18.5 percent sales decline for Hachette in the third quarter and blamed Amazon’s "punitive measures" for a drop in the U.S. market share of e-books for adult trade releases. Restrictions on Hachette books are being listed immediately. This is the second pricing deal in less than a month between Amazon and one of the “Big Five” publishers. Amazon is expected to negotiate new deals with Harper Collins, Penguin Random House and Macmillan in the coming months, NPR reports.
Duracell Acquisition Gives Berkshire Hathaway a Charge
Will this acquisition get a AAA or a AA rating? Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying Duracell from Procter & Gamble Co. for roughly $3 billion. While analysts consider it a declining business, but note that in addition to demand for single-use batteries, there is an opportunity for Duracell to sell more rechargables and plug in to the market for large batteries used in vehicles and on the power grid, the Associated Press reports
Former CEO Indicted for Mine Disaster
Don Blankenship, the former Massey Energy CEO who oversaw the West Virginia mine that exploded in 2010, killing 29 people, was indicted Thursday on federal charges related to a safety investigation that followed the blast. He is accused of conspiring to violate safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch Mine. Blankenship could face up to 31 years in prison if convicted. The tragedy and subsequent investigation led to the overhaul of the way the federal government oversees mine safety.
Silver Wants Legalized Sports Betting
Stepping out again in his new position as commissioner of the National Basketball Association, Adam Silver Thursday wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times asking Congress to pass legislation to allow legalized sports betting. The column comes weeks after a federal judge blocked a New Jersey law that would allow wagering on sports events at state-licensed facilities. Silver noted there is approximately $400 billion spent on illegal sports gambling in America annually. "I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated," he wrote. Silver notes that sports betting is legal in England and even takes place at stadiums where games are played.
The Onion Gets Serious
Bloomberg reports that the owner of the Onion, the satirical news site, is looking for possible buyers. Citing people with knowledge of the situation, Bloomberg says the that Onion, Inc., which also owns entertainment site the A.V. Club, has hired a financial advisor to assist with a possible sale. Investment bank GCA Savvian is also said to be working with the company. Onion CEO Steve Hannah declined to comment on the report.