European woes hit markets
Fear of Europe's debt problems spreading is once again playing havoc with Wall Street. Stocks dropped Wednesday as borrowing rates climbed for Spain and Italy, a sign that investors are losing confidence in those countries' finances. Spain's 10-year borrowing rate leapt to 6.06 percent from 5.70 percent early Tuesday. Many fear that Spain could be the next nation to need a financial bailout. The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 184 points before recovering about half of the loss.
Founder explains stock sale
NEW YORK — The founder of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., who was ousted as chairman for a stock sale that violated company policy, said the transaction was triggered after he was caught off-guard by a swift drop in the coffee maker's stock price. Robert Stiller, who also dumped his $50 million stake in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc., said in an interview Wednesday that he didn't expect Green Mountain's shares to fall so steeply last week. The decline forced him to sell the shares on a margin call, which happened to occur during a blackout period in which the company prohibits the sale of its stock by insiders. Investors are subject to margin calls when they put stock up as collateral to borrow cash. When share prices take a tumble, borrowers may be required to cover the gap.
Upscale food now on the menu
Thin-sliced roasted turkey, prosciutto and sopressata no longer are the domain of the deli. Food companies looking to capitalize on consumers' increasingly sophisticated tastes — and their need for speed at the grocer and at home — are carving out new directions in lunch meat with upscale options that are pre-sliced, prepackaged and ready to go right alongside the bologna. They also are revamping the classics, offering new flavors and styles of basic deli meats, including better-for-you options like the new line of Oscar Mayer Selects being introduced this week. Some prepackaged lunch meats now come in thicker slices, mirroring the choice at a traditional deli. Herbs and spices also are showing up in prepackaged products, boosting flavor and appeal. And there are the packages of sliced, dry-cured meats, such as sopressata and prosciutto, which used to be strictly deli items.
Banker admits securities fraud
NEW YORK — A one-time wealthy investment banker banned from working as a broker-dealer after admitting securities fraud in the 1990s has pleaded guilty to securities charges again in New York. David Blech pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of securities fraud in Manhattan federal court. He said he made desperate moves when he was heavily in debt. He admitted that he tried to decrease his investments in two biotechnology companies in 2007 and 2008 by hiding his purchases and sales in accounts created for relatives.
Export-import bank gets reprieve
WASHINGTON — The House has voted to extend the life of the Export-Import Bank, a key source of financing for American companies, ranging from small businesses to giants such as Boeing, trying to sell goods overseas. The vote was a victory for the business community, which has urged lawmakers to renew the bank's charter before it expires at the end of the month. Reauthorization of the independent federal agency, which is self-financing and returns money to the Treasury, was complicated by a campaign among several influential conservative groups to eliminate the bank. They argued that the bank's loans to American exporters and foreign buyers distort markets and pick winners and losers. The legislation now moves to the Senate.
Vidal Sassoon dies at 84
LOS ANGELES — Celebrity hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, whose 1960s wash-and-wear cuts freed women from endless teasing and hairspray, has died. He was 84. Los Angeles police spokesman Kevin Maiberger says officers went to Sassoon's home Wednesday morning and determined he was dead of natural causes. Sassoon's family was present. The London-born Sassoon's creative, geometric cuts required little styling. They were an integral part of the look of Mary Quant, the superstar British fashion designer who popularized the miniskirt. The easy-maintenance cuts also fit right in with the fledgling women's liberation
Freddie Mac names new CEO
WASHINGTON — Mortgage giant Freddie Mac is naming the former head of E(asterisk) Trade Financial Corp. as its new CEO. Donald Layton, 62, is expected to be named next Freddie's chief executive as early as this week, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said Wednesday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that person was not authorized to speak ahead of an announcement. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier of Layton's expected appointment. Layton declined to comment. Freddie CEO Charles E. Haldeman Jr. announced in October that he would resign this year. The government rescued Freddie and sibling company Fannie Mae in September 2008 to cover losses on soured mortgage loans. Taxpayers have spent about $170 million to rescue them.
Company seeks control of rival
LONDON — GlaxoSmithKline PLC said it wants to take over U.S. drugmaker Human Genome Sciences Inc. with an offer that values the company at nearly $2.6 billion. GlaxoSmithKline, which has profit-sharing agreements with HGS on three drugs but a minimal stake in the company, said Wednesday it is offering $13 cash per share for the company. A private offer from GSK at the same price was rejected by HGS management last month. GSK said its offer was 81 percent more than the HGS share price on April 18, before HGS disclosed the earlier private offer. HGS shares closed at $14.59 Wednesday on the Nasdaq exchange.
From wire reports