Briefs

The cracks that caused a Southwest Airlines (LUV) jet to rip open midflight on Apr. 1 developed on the Boeing 737-300 much earlier than expected, according to Boeing (BA). The planemaker says the metal fatigue wasn't forecast to occur until after 60,000 flights, while the Southwest jet had only flown 39,781. After the incident, Southwest inspected 79 of its 737s and grounded five found to have cracks. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is now requiring emergency inspections on all 737-300s, 737-400s, and 737-500s that have made more than 30,000 flights. Boeing built those planes before 2000, when the company improved the design of the world's most widely flown jet.

Freedom Group: Shelving Plans for an IPO

Freedom Group, the firearms and ammunition company controlled by buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management, called off plans for an IPO. Madison (N.C.)-based Freedom filed for an IPO in October 2009, saying it would seek to raise as much as $200 million. Plans for the listing were shelved after the gunmaker experienced several setbacks, including a slower firearms market in 2010 and the September departure of CEO Theodore Torbeck. Freedom now may arrange a private placement instead.

Google: Another Antitrust Probe Looms

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which handles consumer protection issues, is considering a broad antitrust investigation into Google's (GOOG) dominance of the Internet search industry, say two people familiar with the matter. Before proceeding, the FTC is awaiting a Justice Dept. decision on whether it will challenge Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software on the grounds that it will limit competition in the travel information search business. The state of Texas and the European Commission have already launched antitrust investigations into Google's practices.

Electronic Arts: Leveraging Augusta National's Appeal

Electronic Arts (ERTS) on Mar. 29 introduced Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, a video game featuring Georgia's exclusive Augusta National Golf Club. Sales of Woods's previous namesake game dropped by almost two-thirds after he acknowledged having extramarital affairs. He hasn't won a tournament since November 2009. Yet Electronic Arts is banking on the appeal of Augusta National, which counts Warren Buffett and Bill Gates among its 300-plus members, to spur sales of the title.

Honda Motor: European Production on Hold

Honda Motor (HMC) will halve production at its main European factory for seven weeks starting Apr. 11 to cope with a component shortage following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A total of 139,000 CR-V, Civic, and Jazz models for 30 markets rolled off the assembly line in Swindon, England, last year. Once the shortage is eliminated, Honda hopes to accelerate production at Swindon and make nearly as many vehicles this year. The plant's 3,000 employees will each accrue 105 "banked" hours to be completed after production resumes.

On the Move

— Vale: Murilo Pinto de Oliveira Ferreira to be CEO

— Wright Medical: CEO Gary Henley resigns

— Discover Financial Services: R. Mark Graf named EVP, CFO, and chief accounting officer

— Sprint Nextel: Joseph Euteneuer to be CFO

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