Volkswagen: A Bigger Maker of Big Rigs
Volkswagen is exploring a merger of its Swedish truck-making unit, Scania, with Munich-based MAN. A deal would create Europe's largest manufacturer of heavy trucks and buses, surpassing both Volvo and Daimler. VW owns 46 percent of Scania and 30 percent of MAN. To increase its stake in Scania, it may transfer its MAN shares to the Swedish company, according to German weekly Der Spiegel. Scania could then offer to buy out other MAN investors. If joined, Scania and MAN would hold nearly 30 percent of Europe's market for big rigs and buses. Globally, the companies have sold a total of more than 84,000 vehicles this year.
Wal-Mart: As U.S. Sales Stall, an Overseas Lift
The world's largest retailer reported a 9.3 percent gain in third-quarter profit as growth overseas helped make up for a 1.3 percent dip in sales at U.S. stores open at least a year. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which has suffered six straight quarters of stateside sales declines, is expanding its product lineup and planning smaller outlets in hopes of winning back struggling U.S. consumers. Sales abroad rose 7.9 percent, while total revenue increased 2.6 percent to $102 billion.
Phusion Projects: Waking Up to the Peril of Energy Drinks
Alcoholic energy drinks such as Four Loko, Joose, and Moonshot will be effectively banned in the U.S. following reports that young people have been hospitalized after consuming them, Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says. After a yearlong review, federal agencies found that combining caffeine and alcohol is unsafe, as the stimulant masks the effects of the liquor, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning. In response, Phusion Projects, maker of the popular Four Loko brand, announced that it will remove caffeine from its brew.
Gazprom: A New Cuban Connection
Russian energy giant Gazprom has signed an agreement with Malaysia's Petronas to buy a 30 percent stake in a project to drill for oil off the coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico. Exploratory drilling is scheduled for 2011 but still requires approval from Cuban authorities, according to Gazprom. The Russian company is seeking to expand abroad—in Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, and Iraq—as it aims to almost double output to 2 million barrels a day by 2020. Some of the Cuban oil fields lie just 50 miles away from Key West, Fla.
Intel: Coming Soon to TV—Intel Inside
Intel (INTC) says it's working with "several" global television makers to introduce models built with its chips. As demand for Internet-linked TVs grows, the company—whose processors are in about 80 percent of the world's personal computers—plans to introduce a TV chip early next year. The company says it might display some of the new models at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Intel faces stiff competition. In October, Sony (SNE) introduced Internet-enabled TVs using Google (GOOG) software. A month before that, Apple (AAPL) released a $99 TV set-top box that delivers movies and TV shows from the Web. Samsung, the world's largest TV maker, says it's open to using Intel's chips.
On the Move
— Burger King (BKC): Bernardo Hees appointed CEO
— Newsweek: Tina Brown named editor-in-chief of Newsweek Daily Beast Co.
— Fannie Mae (FNM): CFO David M. Johnson to resign at year's end