Business Highlights


Apple CEO dares to be different from Steve Jobs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — “Think different” became Apple’s creed under Steve Jobs’ reign as CEO. Now chief executive Tim Cook is embracing the idea, while making decisions that would have seemed crazy to his fabled predecessor.

Cook is straying from Jobs’ cash-hoarding habits by committing to return $130 billion to shareholders. He has orchestrated a company stock split and agreed to match employees’ charitable contributions up to $10,000 annually. And under Cook, Apple also is working to improve labour conditions, reduce pollution and make major acquisitions.

The shift in management philosophy has resulted in an odd twist: Apple Inc.’s pace of innovation has slowed and it now looks more like a conventional company than the corporate rebel Jobs tried to cultivate.


Hillshire looks beyond meat with Birds Eye, Vlasic

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillshire Brands is pushing further outside the deli case with a deal to buy the maker of Birds Eye frozen vegetables, Duncan Hines cakes mixes and Hungry-Man frozen dinners.

The Chicago-based company, which makes Hillshire Farm lunch meats, Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park franks, said Monday that it would buy Pinnacle Foods in a deal valued at $4.23 billion. The move extends Hillshire’s reach into other sections of the supermarket as more Americans watch how much meat they’re eating.

Pinnacle’s brands include Wish-Bone salad dressing, Celeste frozen pizzas and Vlasic pickles.


Godzilla proves even giant monsters need lawyers

Even Godzilla needs a good lawyer sometimes.

Attorneys acting on behalf of Godzilla’s owners, Toho Co. Ltd., have amassed a string of victories in recent decades, fighting counterfeiters and business titans along the way. The litigation has kept Godzilla’s brand thriving and helped pave the way for commercial and merchandising tie-ins that will accompany the monster’s return to the big screen on Friday after a 10 year hiatus.

Godzilla’s image is for sale, but permission is needed.

Since 1991, Toho’s attorneys have filed at least 32 copyright and trademark lawsuits and countless warning letters, gaining court injunctions in a quarter of the cases. Most others have resulted in settlement agreements that while confidential, result in products disappearing from the marketplace.


High cost, corruption claims mar Brazil World Cup

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium has nearly tripled to $900 million in public funds.

The spike has made it the world’s second-most expensive soccer arena, even though the city has no major professional team. Mane Garrincha stadium has become the costliest project related to Brazil’s $11.5 billion World Cup.

Critics call it the poster child for out-of-control spending and mismanagement, or worse.

An Associated Press analysis of data from Brazil’s top electoral court shows skyrocketing campaign contributions by the very companies involved in the most Cup projects. The financial links between construction firms and politicians add to suspicions among Brazilians that preparations for the event are tainted by corruption.


Pfizer underscores UK commitments in memo

LONDON (AP) — Pfizer Inc. wants to allay concerns over its proposed $106 billion takeover offer of pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, insisting that its promises will be legally binding.

In a memo Monday to two U.K. parliamentary committees studying the proposed deal, the U.S. drugmaker laid out its vision ahead of its testimony before the science and business committees. The company sought to ease worries that British jobs will be lost and that the nation’s science base eroded by the potential merger.

The cash and stock deal has become politically fraught, with much of the debate centring on whether Pfizer can be trusted to honour promises in what would be the biggest foreign takeover of a British business.


Chrysler reports $690 million first quarter loss

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler Group’s first-quarter sales jumped thanks to the new Jeep Cherokee and Ram pickup, but it lost money because of charges related to its merger with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

Chrysler posted a loss of $690 million for the quarter. Without one-time costs of $1.2 billion, the company’s net income more than doubled to $486 million.

In January, Fiat paid $3.65 billion to acquire Chrysler’s remaining shares. The two companies are in the process of combining to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The combined company expects to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in the fourth quarter of this year.


Samsung chairman hospitalized after heart attack

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun-hee remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday after being treated for a heart attack, company officials said.

Lee, 72, was rushed to a hospital near his Seoul home late Saturday after suffering breathing problems and received CPR due to symptoms of a heart attack. He was later transferred to a Samsung-affiliated hospital in Seoul, Samsung Medical Center, where he underwent a stent placement procedure early Sunday in which tubes were inserted into his body to widen blood vessels to prevent a heart attack, according to Keich Lee, a spokeswoman at Samsung Global Communications.

The Samsung Group said in a statement Sunday that Lee “is in stable condition and making a recovery.”


UK company to track planes after Malaysian loss

LONDON (AP) — Inmarsat Plc, a provider of global mobile satellite communications services, says it will offer free basic tracking services for planes flying over oceans in the hope of preventing another incident such as the loss of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The British company said Monday that the service is being offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection — most of the world’s long-haul commercial fleet.

Inmarsat, which made its offer ahead of a conference in Canada on aircraft tracking, said it anticipated the adoption of further safety measures following the loss of MH370.


President tells China to get used to slower growth

BEIJING (AP) — China’s president has told the country to get used to slower growth, damping expectations of a new stimulus.

President Xi Jinping’s weekend comments come amid weakening trade and manufacturing. Economic growth slowed in the latest quarter to 7.4 per cent after last year’s full-year expansion of 7.7 per cent tied 2012 for the weakest performance since 1999.

The ruling Communist Party is trying to steer the economy to self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment. Other leaders have ruled out more stimulus, but unexpectedly weak demand for Chinese exports has forced Beijing to backtrack and launch mini-stimulus efforts last year and in March.


Texas lawmakers tour embattled Sriracha plant

IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) — The maker of the popular Sriracha hot sauce says he has no intention of moving his embattled factory out of Irwindale, California, but he has told two visiting Texas lawmakers he might consider expanding into that state.

David Tran spoke to reporters Monday after giving the politicians a tour of the factory, which some neighbours claim emits offensive odours.

Irwindale city leaders have tentatively declared the plant a public nuisance, leading numerous other cities and states to urge Tran to relocate his business and jobs. The City Council is scheduled to vote on finalizing the nuisance declaration on Wednesday but there’s a staff recommendation to delay the vote another two weeks. Tran believes he’ll have the odour issue resolved by June.


By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 112.13 points, or 0.7 per cent, to close at 16,695.47. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 18.75 points, or 1 per cent, to 1,896.65. The Nasdaq climbed 71.99 points, or 1.8 per cent, to 4,143.86.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery gained 60 cents to $100.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Wholesale gasoline added 2 cents to $2.91 a gallon. Heating oil gained 1 cent to $2.92 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10 cents to $4.43 per 1,000 cubic feet. Brent crude, a benchmark for international varieties, rose 52 cents to $108.41 on the ICE Futures exchange in London