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P&G Seeks Productivity Boost; EA Spurned by Take-Two; Inflation Hits 26-Year High in Singapore; Lowe’s Posts Lower Earnings; Getty Images $2.4 Billion Buyout Sealed; Sieman’s Cuts Telecom Jobs; Google Still Web Search Leader; Brazil Offers Argentina A Light
- The Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) announced yesterday (Monday) that it would reduce 15% of its management staff. Reductions would occur mainly through attrition, as employees who retire or leave the company are not replaced. In an effort to accelerate productivity and increase efficiency, P&G will also refocus on its leading brands such [those brands such as Tide and Swiffer with annual sales of $500 million or more]. "We're committed to flat or declining headcount for the foreseeable future," Chief Executive Officer A.G. Lafley last week at the Consumer Analysts Group of New York conference in Florida, Reuters reported. "We will continue to invest in our faster growing businesses."
- A $2 billion offer from video game maker, Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), for rival Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (TTWO) was rejected yesterday (Monday). EA is the largest independent video game producer and is responsible for popular titles such as “Madden NFL” and “FIFA Soccer.” Take-Two is most well known for its “Grand Theft Auto” series. The offer of $26 per share represents a 64% premium over the Feb. 15 close of $15.83, the last day of trading before the offer was made. Take-Two also rejected an earlier bid of $25 per share. “There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today,” EA Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello wrote in a letter to Take-Two released Sunday, .
- Singapore’s January inflation accelerated at the fastest pace since 1982, Bloomberg reported. The consumer price index went up 6.6% from January last year. Economists estimated a 5.6% increase. Rising prices in the city-state is putting pressure on its central bank to allow the Singapore dollar to appreciate in order to cool down rising prices of imports.
- Reeling from the housing market crisis and lower consumer spending, Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (LOW) reported lower fourth-quarter sales and full-year earnings below estimates, Reuters reported. The company also forecast trouble ahead in the next few quarters. “We know the next several quarters will be challenging on many fronts as industry sales are likely to remain soft," Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock said in a statement. The Home Depot Inc. (HD) is expected to report lower quarterly results today (Tuesday).
- Private equity firm Hellman & Freidman’s $2.4 takeover bid for Getty Images Inc. (GYI) has been approved by Getty’s board and is expected to close in the second quarter, Reuters reported. The deal values Getty at $34 a share, a 55% premium of the company’s closing price on Jan. 18, the last trading day before the company announced it would look at strategic options.
- Siemens AG (SI) plans to announce today (Tuesday) that it intends to eliminate up to 7,000 jobs, or 40% of workers, in its troubled business telecommunications unit in Germany and Brazil, the International Herald Tribune reported. Company executives are expected to disclose the plans for Siemens Enterprise Communications, which makes corporate phone networks, at a meeting with representatives of the workers' council in Munich. According to the Tribune, executives will announce plans to cut up to 4,000 jobs within the unit, which employs 17,500, and will advise worker representatives that a further 3,000 jobs could be transferred into ventures with new business partners.
- Nielsen Online said yesterday (Monday) that Google Inc. (GOOG) topped January's search rankings with 4.22 billion queries, or a 56.9% share. Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) came in second for the month with 1.41 billion searches, or a 19% share, followed by Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) MSN/Windows Live with a 12.1% share.
- Brazil reiterated Monday that it will sell neighboring Argentina extra electricity to help stave off blackouts, despite its refusal to share natural gas needed to generate power the . “We will send electrical energy to Argentina when it becomes necessary in the winter and Argentina can help us when we need it,” Marco Aurelio Garcia, an adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told Argentina's independent Radio America radio station.