Companies in Brief

Burger King: New Owners for the Whopper?

Burger King Holdings (BKC) is in talks with private equity firm 3G Capital Management about a buyout, according to a person familiar with the matter. The No. 2 U.S. hamburger chain has struggled to repair relations with franchisees and differentiate itself from archrival McDonald's (MCD). Sales fell 1.4 percent, to $2.5 billion, for the year ended June 30. TPG, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs Group (GS) bought Burger King from Diageo (DEO) in 2002 and took the company public four years later. They still retain one third of the company.

JPMorgan Chase: Banks Shuts Down Proprietary Trading

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is closing its proprietary trading desk for commodities to comply with the so-called Volcker rule, which aims to curb risk-taking by banks. Next, the New York-based bank will close proprietary trading in fixed income, then equities, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Research in Motion: Corporate Loyalty Is Fading

A survey by Sanford C. Bernstein shows that Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry is losing favor among companies. Of the 200 U.S. and U.K. companies polled, 74 percent now allow their employees to use rival devices. An August survey by Nielsen found that only 42 percent of BlackBerry users want to stick with the brand when they buy a new phone. The rate is 89 percent for iPhone users and 71 percent for Android devices.

Carrefour: The Retailer Is Back in the Black

Carrefour, the world's No. 2 retailer, returned to profit in the first half of 2010, largely powered by cost cutting. Net income for the Paris-based company was $104 million, compared with a loss of $83 million a year earlier. Carrefour said it will accelerate discounts in the second half of 2010 to lure more French shoppers.

Interval Licensing: A Lawsuit a Decade in the Making

Interval Licensing, a defunct Internet research firm started in 1992 by billionaire Microsoft (MSFT) co-founder Paul Allen, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against 11 companies, including Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL), and Netflix (NFLX). The suit claims that Interval developed now commonly used technologies for online shopping. Facebook and eBay (EBAY) have said they will fight the case.

Toyota: Japanese Sales of the Prius Sputter

Japanese sales of Toyota's (TM) Prius hybrid are set to plunge with the end of a Japanese government program that offers a $3,000 rebate to buyers trading in older cars for more fuel-efficient new models. Deliveries of the Prius more than tripled in the six months through June, to 20 percent of Toyota's total domestic sales.

On the Move: Changes in the Executive Suite

Ray Irani, the chief executive of Occidental Petroleum, is expected to announce plans to step down in 2011 at the next board meeting in October, The Wall Street Journal reported. Irani has come under fire from some investors over his oversized pay package. In other news, Digg, the Web service that lets people organize online news, hired Matt Williams, an 11-year (AMZN) veteran, as chief executive officer. News Corp. (NWS) announced that former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd will not serve as a director after Oct. 15.

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