Top Headlines - part 68

France to Pursue Construction of 60th Nuclear Power Plant

France to Pursue Construction of 60th Nuclear Power Plant

WORLD

  • French President confirms plans for next-generation Penly reactor
  • Socialists, Greens agree on pre-election deal to shut down 24 out of 58 nuclear reactors
  • Sarkozy says deal would be catastrophic for French economy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirms that France will proceed with a controversial construction project for a 60th nuclear reactor in Penly, northern France. Sarkozy made the announcement at a nuclear power plant in Tricastin in southern France, laying the foundation for a heated energy debate going into the 2012 presidential election.

Nearly ten days earlier, the main opposition Socialist party signed a tentative pre-election deal with the Greens to begin the gradual decommissioning of 24 of the country’s 58 nuclear reactors. The Greens, who have yet to officially endorse the agreement, will back Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande on the condition that, if elected, he cuts France’s nuclear energy output from 75% of total production to 50% by 2025.

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KKR Tops Leveraged Buyout Charts With $7.2 Billion Samson Deal

KKR Tops Leveraged Buyout Charts With $7.2 Billion Samson Deal

FINANCE

  • KKR teams up with Itochu, Crestview and Natural Gas on Samson buyout
  • KKR losses total more than $590 million after writing down investments
  • Fee-related earnings jump almost $100 million, up $30 million on 2010

Global investment firm KKR & Co. LP has agreed to purchase private exploration and production company Samson Investment Co. in a deal worth $7.2 billion. KKR will proceed with the buy in conjunction with Japanese trader Itochu Corp. and investment outfits Crestview Partners and Natural Gas Partners.

Oklahoma-based Samson has been in operation for four decades and holds over 10,000 wells, 40% of which are in the US. Wells held by Samson in the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Coast are excluded from the agreement. The company’s wells cover areas in shale formations holding liquid hydrocarbons including oil.

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Pharma Payout: Merck Loses $950M Settlement In Vioxx Investigation

Pharma Payout: Merck Loses $950M Settlement In Vioxx Investigation

BUSINESS

  • Merck to pay $321.6 million in criminal fines and $628.4 million in civil settlements
  • Vioxx illegally marketed for three years before being recalled in 2004
  • Shares fall 1.1% to $33.43

Merck & Co has agreed to pay $950 million to settle an investigation into the unlawful marketing of its Vioxx painkiller treatment, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The second-largest drug maker in the US will pay criminal fines amounting to $321.6 million and $628.4 million in civil settlement claims. It will also offer a guilty plea to charges of misdemeanor for marketing Vioxx as a rheumatoid arthritis treatment before receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, as well as releasing false information about the cardiovascular risks of the drug.

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Brazil Blocks Chevron Drilling In Frade Oil Spill Probe

Brazil Blocks Chevron Drilling In Frade Oil Spill Probe

WORLD

  • Drilling rights suspended during investigation into Frade spill
  • Chevron accused of negligence; handed $28 million fine
  • Company unable to explain cause of leak

The Brazilian government has blocked oil company Chevron Corp’s drilling activities in the country pending clarification over a November 8 oil spill at the Frade field.

The state oil regulating body Agencia Nacional do Petroleo (ANP) said negligence on the behalf of the US company contributed to the spill, which saw some 2,400 barrels of oil leaked into the ocean around 370 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro.

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Travel Industry Trend: Mega-Cruise Ships Make Bigger Better

Travel Industry Trend: Mega-Cruise Ships Make Bigger Better

BUSINESS

  • Major ocean-going cruise lines offering increasingly popular mega-ships
  • New ships often taller than Eiffel Tower, offer greater variety of activities
  • Passengers approve of new features, satisfaction is high

In the distant past, ocean-going cruise ships of 500 to 1,000 passengers were the norm, but today ships are getting bigger. Cruise line executives say this new trend is in line with passenger demand, with travellers looking for more activities, more dining and entertainment choices, more fitness facilities and more kids programs, among others.

Leading ship lines - such as Carnival, Holland American and Royal Caribbean - are taking advantage of the mega-ship trend to produce economies of scale: with more cabins, the overall cost is less. Cruise line insiders say the highest expenses for a ship’s operation are below deck, and only one set of engines and supportive technology means savings.

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US Economic Growth Rate Dips Down To 2%

US Economic Growth Rate Dips Down To 2%

ECONOMY

  • Revised quarterly GDP 0.5% lower than predicted, 2.5% yearly rate expected
  • Inventory slump may boost fourth-quarter growth
  • Banks and corporations record quarterly profits

Third quarter gross US domestic progress figures have been adjusted by the Department of Commerce, revealing a downward revision from 2.5% to 2% growth.

The slower growth figure surprised economists, who expected the figure to remain in tact, and disappointed those who were eagerly awaiting an economic rebound in the first half of 2012. Despite the downward revision, the new figure is still much higher than the meager 1.3% growth reported in the second quarter.

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Penguin Group E-Books Cut From Libraries, Amazon Online Lending Program

Penguin Group E-Books Cut From Libraries, Amazon Online Lending Program

BUSINESS

  • Penguin temporarily bans new e-books to libraries and Kindle users
  • Non-specific “security concerns” cited as reason for suspension
  • OverDrive instructed to block new Penguin e-Book titles, disable Kindle functionality for all Penguin e-Books

Penguin Group (USA), one of the nation’s largest publishers, is temporarily banning the availability of its new e-books to libraries and Amazon’s online lending program as well as prohibiting libraries from loaning existing Penguin e-books on their shelves to Kindle owners.

In a statement issued by Penguin, the reason for the suspension is “due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners.”

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Software Giant SAP Expanding in Asia, Forming Partnerships

Software Giant SAP Expanding in Asia, Forming Partnerships

BUSINESS

  • SAP to expand in Asia, hire employees in China and India
  • Asia-Pacific accounts for 11% annual sales
  • SAP Business One software sees 14 new customers in China every day.

The world’s largest developer of business management software, SAP AG, is open to new acquisitions in Asia. In addition, it plans to hire more staff in China and India.

Asia is a growing market for German-based SAP. Third quarter 2011 saw 15% of the company’s revenue come from Asia-Pacific, with the largest growing areas being China, India and Japan.

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UNFCCC: Nations To Discuss Climate Change Next Week

UNFCCC: Nations To Discuss Climate Change Next Week

WORLD

  • UN Climate Change Conference 2011 scheduled for Nov. 28 - Dec.9.
  • Clean climate investment gap of $22.5 billion predicted by 2015
  • China world's largest carbon emitter, investment of $54 billion made in low-carbon tech

At the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference 2011 - which runs from Monday November 28 to December 9 in Durban, South Africa - world leaders will discuss ways to prepare for global climate change and how to limit greenhouse gas emissions as well as best practices and global policies.

The conference, also known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was first held in 1994.

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US Wants More Foreign Visitors: Will It Get Them?

US Wants More Foreign Visitors: Will It Get Them?

WORLD

  • Brand USA to welcome international visitors by making it easier to obtain visas and other initiatives
  • 37% drop in share of international tourist arrivals to US due to negative perceptions
  • Brand USA has access to $120 million in Electronic System for Travel Authorization fun

The US has launched a new agency, called ‘Brand USA’, to revive its long-ailing international travel market. This initiative marks America’s first-ever global consumer brand, and was stared by the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP) to promote the US to world visitors. These new promotion plans were announced at the recent World Travel Market in London.

US: Stagnant International Visitor Numbers

The United States has been one of the few industrialized nations in modern times without a coordinated international tourism marketing message. In the past 10 years, the world travel market increased by 60 million people, while visitation to the United States was flat.

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