Alpha Natural Resources: A Settlement for a Deadly Blast
Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) will pay $209 million to settle a criminal investigation and civil actions stemming from the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine, formerly owned and operated by Massey Energy. It was the deadliest U.S. mining disaster in 40 years. The settlement includes $46.5 million in restitution to two injured workers and the families of the 29 miners killed at the West Virginia mine. Federal regulators fined Alpha, which acquired Massey in June, $10.8 million after determining Massey concealed hazards and pressured workers not to report problems. The settlement doesn’t cover civil lawsuits by the miners’ families, nor does it limit the liability of former Massey executives.
J.C. Penney: Nesting with Martha Stewart
J.C. Penney (JCP) bought a stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) and will set up mini-stores dedicated to the homemaking brand at its department stores. The retailer paid $38.5 million for 17 percent of the company. J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson, who took over in November after running Apple’s retail operations, seeks to revive the department-store brand. Scheduled to open in February 2013, the mini-stores will sell home and lifestyle goods and will be staffed by salespeople trained to provide tips to shoppers.
Coca-Cola: Investigation of Tainted Chinese Drink
The Chinese government says Coca-Cola (KO) beverages were tampered with in northern China, where police are investigating how a child died and three other people became sick after drinking a Minute Maid strawberry-flavored beverage. The company says it has reviewed its production and warehousing processes and that tests indicate the products are safe. Coca-Cola and its Chinese bottling partners plan to invest $4 billion in the country over three years to build more plants and try to win market share from PepsiCo (PEP).
Apple: EU Probes E-Book Sales
European Union antitrust regulators are investigating whether Apple (AAPL) and five publishers colluded to restrict e-book competition across the Continent. Authorities are scrutinizing deals where publishers, rather than retailers, set the prices for e-books—a practice that took hold in 2010. Sales of e-books have been sluggish in Europe, where there are few non-English titles. Apple, which sells titles for its iPad tablet, declined to comment. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Publishers say they’re cooperating with the inquiry.
Amazon: Luring Shoppers from Local Retailers
Amazon.com (AMZN) is stepping up its strike on brick-and-mortar retailers by enticing shoppers to compare prices on their mobile phones while shopping at a rival store. The company is offering a 5 percent discount to users who try its Price Check mobile app that lets in-store shoppers scan product barcodes to check Amazon’s prices online. Customers will get the discount and as much as $5 off on three qualifying products on Dec. 10. Amazon hopes to get pricing data by asking customers what local stores are charging for the products.