Business briefs – July 12

U.S. and Canadian judges have approved a US$4.5 billion cash bid from a consortium that includes smartphone makers Apple and Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) for patents held by bankrupt telecom-equipment maker Nortel.

Judges in U.S., Canada approve Nortel patent sale

WILMINGTON, Del. — U.S. and Canadian judges have approved a US$4.5 billion cash bid from a consortium that includes smartphone makers Apple and Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) for patents held by bankrupt telecom-equipment maker Nortel.

The judges approved the results of Nortel’s patent auction at a joint hearing, just over a week after the consortium offered five times more than Google Inc.’s (Nasdaq:GOOG) initial bid of $900 million for some 6,000 patents and patent applications.

Phones running Google’s Android system compete with Apple Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AAPL) iPhone and Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry devices.

The patents represent the last of Nortel’s major assets and cover a variety of technologies, including wireless and data networking.

Nortel Networks Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 and has been selling off its operations bit by bit since then.

Conrad Black to report back to prison in September

CHICAGO — A U.S. judge says former media mogul Conrad Black must head back behind bars in two months.

A sentencing order released Monday says the 66-year-old must report to prison by Sept. 6.

Last month, Judge Amy St. Eve ruled that Black hadn’t served enough time for defrauding investors and should serve 13 months more. He could have received four more years.

She originally sentenced Black to 6 1/2 years for his 2007 conviction. Black served part of that sentence before being freed on bail to pursue what ended up being partially successful appeals.

Starbucks realigns top management

SEATTLE — Starbucks is realigning its top management to help drive its international growth.

The Seattle-based coffee giant said Monday that it is dividing responsibilities for its business into three global regions instead of the current two, U.S. and international.

The company has appointed three of its executives to lead the three regions, which are Asia, the Americas and the combination of Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says the company’s financial performance has never been better and this move helps maximize its opportunities in key growing markets such as China, Brazil and India.

Starbucks has nearly 11,000 stores in North America and almost 6,000 in the rest of the world.

Governors want Lower Churchill project power

HALIFAX — Governors from New England say they want transmission and financial issues associated with the potential development of Labrador’s Lower Churchill hydroelectric project resolved swiftly.

The governors met with Atlantic Canadian premiers today in Halifax where they discussed the proposed development at Muskrat Falls in central Labrador.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy says pressure is building in the United States to satisfy renewable energy needs locally rather than wait for Canadian sources of hydroelectricity.

Malloy says he believes importing Canadian hydroelectricity makes sense, but it has to be timely.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says the New England states will need as much cheap electricity as it can get from both Labrador and Quebec.

Quebec objects strongly to the development of the Muskrat Falls project — specifically a request from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador for a loan guarantee ——from Ottawa.

Westcast in talks as part of strategic review

BRANTFORD, Ont. — Wescast Industries Inc. (TSX:WCS.A) says it has been in talks with several parties “regarding possible alternatives” as part of a strategic review launched in March.

The maker of automotive exhaust systems did not specify what alternatives it is looking at, but strategic reviews can often lead to selling off part or all of a company’s assets. They can also end with mergers, acquisitions or refinancings.

“There can be no assurance that the company will proceed with any transaction, that an agreement will be reached with any such party, that a transaction will occur or that the review of strategic alternatives will result in any specific action,” it said in a statement.

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