U.S. charges South Korea’s Kolon with trade secrets theft

WASHINGTON, Thu Oct 18, 2012 – A U.S. grand jury charged South Korea-based Kolon Industries Inc. with criminal trade theft in a long-running dispute over how the company produced high-strength fiber, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.

Kolon and five individuals face charges that they stole trade secrets belonging to DuPont Co, maker of Kevlar fabric used in body armor and other products, and Teijin Ltd, maker of Twaron, the rival fabric.

The United States threatens to take at least $226 million in assets from Kolon, which represents the gross proceeds of the company’s sales of its fabric, Heracron, according to the indictment.

The indictment is dated Aug. 21 and was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. DuPont developed Kevlar in Virginia, according to the indictment.

The company and the individuals also face a charge that they obstructed the U.S. government’s investigation.

In a 2011 civil lawsuit, a federal jury ordered Kolon to pay DuPont $920 million in damages based on similar accusations. In August, a judge barred Kolon from making its version of the synthetic fiber for 20 years.

Kolon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

A court hearing in the case has been scheduled for Dec. 11.

Hawker Beechcraft says talks with Chinese suitor fail

WICHITA, Kan., Thu Oct 18, 2012 – Aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft Inc, owned by Goldman Sachs and Onex Corp., said it intends to emerge from bankruptcy as a standalone company after talks to sell itself to Chinese aerospace firm Superior Aviation Beijing Co failed.

The maker of business jets, general aviation turboprops and military aircraft, filed for bankruptcy protection in May, unable to support a $2.5 billion debt load.

Hawker said in July it was in exclusive talks with the little-known Chinese firm over the sale of the company for $1.79 billion.

The companies could not agree on the terms of a plan sponsorship agreement, Hawker said on Thursday.

The company that would emerge from bankruptcy, to be renamed Beechcraft Corp, would focus on turboprop, piston, special mission and trainer/attack aircraft, Hawker said.

The company said it was evaluating strategic options with creditors for its Hawker product lines, including the closure of its entire jet business, if it does not get a satisfactory bid.

Hawker, which will file an amended reorganization plan, said general unsecured claims will be canceled and holders will receive equity in the reorganized company.

Blackstone third-quarter profit up on strong fund performance

NEW YORK, Thu Oct 18, 2012 – Blackstone Group LP, the largest publicly listed alternative asset manager, said on Thursday third-quarter were its third best since going public in 2007 as its funds appreciated in value and performance fees soared.

Blackstone reported that third-quarter economic net income, a measure of its profitability using the mark-to-market valuation of its portfolio, rose to 55 cents per share from a loss of 34 cents per share a year earlier.

Blackstone, which has investments in The Weather Channel, Pinnacle Foods and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said distributable earnings, reflecting actual cash available to pay dividends, rose to $189.6 million from $125.7 million a year ago.

Assets under management totaled $205 billion at the end of September, up 30 percent from a year earlier.

Blackstone declared a quarterly distribution of 10 cents per common unit.

Union Pacific profit up 15 percent on chemical, auto shipments

OMAHA, Neb., Thu Oct 18, 2012 – Aircraft Union Pacific Corp. posted a 15 percent rise in profit as an increase in the largest publicly traded U.S. railroad’s shipments of freight, including autos, offset weak coal shipments.

The company said on Thursday third-quarter profit was $1.04 billion, or $2.19 per share, compared with $904 million, or $1.85 per share, a year earlier. Earnings were a penny per share higher than analysts’ average forecast of $2.18 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue rose 4.7 percent to $5.34 billion, from $5.1 billion, a year earlier. Wall Street had anticipated $5.38 billion.

The company reported a 12 percent drop in coal volumes, reflecting a long slump in shipments that has affected U.S. railroads since the mild winter of 2011-2012. Strong shipments of chemicals and autos helped offset that decline. Smaller railroad CSX Corp. on Tuesday reported a 2 percent decline in third-quarter profit as coal shipments fell 16 percent.

Coal volume has been off since the mild winter of 2011-12 and CSX officials said they expect that weakness to continue into next year, by which time utilities will have burned off their inventories. Union Pacific shares are up about 38 percent over the past year, sharply outpacing the 13 percent rise of the Dow Jones transportation average.

T-Mobile USA, MetroPCS in talks over deal: sources

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Deutsche Telekom is in advanced talks to combine its T-Mobile USA unit with MetroPCS, three sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday, as the German telecoms group seeks to stem a decline in customers at its U.S. business.

“A deal is close,” one source said, while another person said an announcement could follow later on Tuesday. A third person said a press conference was prepared for Wednesday.

Deutsche Telekom declined to comment, while MetroPCS was not immediately available for comment.

MetroPCS shares traded 21 percent higher at 1526 GMT.

Deutsche Telekom tried to sell its U.S. business T-Mobile USA, once a strong growth engine, to AT&T for $39 billion but fierce regulatory opposition scuppered the deal, leaving the German company with a $6 billion breakup package.

Ever since the AT&T deal collapsed, Deutsche Telekom has been looking for a solution for the unit which has to compete with much bigger rivals Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel.

In the second-quarter T-Mobile USA lost 205,000 customers in the United States and is expected to feel the pressure from the launch of the new iPhone, which it will not be selling in the U.S.

Speculation that T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS were considering a merger have come up in the past although analysts have pointed out that the two companies run on different technologies.

U.S. finds no wrongdoing in Yasmin patent settlement

WASHINGTON, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – U.S. antitrust regulators found no wrongdoing in a deal made four years ago between German drugmaker Bayer AG and a division of Teva Pharmaceuticals o end patent litigation over the popular Yasmin birth control pill.

The Federal Trade Commission, in letters dated Sept. 26 but posted on the agency’s website this week, said it had reviewed the matter and said, “No further action is warranted by the commission at this time. Accordingly, the investigation has been closed.”

The FTC had been looking at the deal made by Bayer and Barr Laboratories, which was purchased by Teva, in 2008 to settle what was then a three-year fight over whether Barr infringed on Bayer’s “Yasmin” patent to make its own generic contraceptives.

Under the supply and licensing agreement, Barr paid Bayer a fixed percentage of its revenues for the contraceptive, Bayer said in its 2011 annual report.

The FTC had no comment beyond the letter. Spokespeople for Bayer and Teva did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FTC has battled what it calls “pay for delay” settlements for years with mixed success. In the deals, brand-name drug companies typically sue generic firms for infringement and then settle, with the generic firm agreeing to delay entry into the market.

The FTC has also pushed for legislation to ban the deals.

Home prices rise in August: CoreLogic

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Home prices rose in August as the housing market continued to gain traction, but recent gains could start to wane as the summer comes to an end, data analysis firm CoreLogic said on Tuesday.

CoreLogic’s home price index rose 0.3 percent from July and was up 4.6 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since July 2006.

Excluding distressed sales, price gains were even larger. Home values rose 1 percent compared with the month before and were up 4.9 percent on a yearly basis.

Homes that have been seized by banks or are in danger of being foreclosed are often sold at significantly reduced prices.

Many economists believe the battered housing market has finally turned a corner this year as prices have stabilized.

Still, the report forecast prices will fall 0.3 percent in September as the traditional summer buying boost wears off. Prices are expected to be up 5 percent compared with a year before.

Stripping out distressed sales, prices are seen up 0.6 percent in September and up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 100 statistical areas measured by population, 20 showed year-over-year declines, down from 26 in July.

Home prices rise in August: CoreLogic

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Home prices rose in August as the housing market continued to gain traction, but recent gains could start to wane as the summer comes to an end, data analysis firm CoreLogic said on Tuesday.

CoreLogic’s home price index rose 0.3 percent from July and was up 4.6 percent compared with a year ago. It was the biggest year-over-year increase since July 2006.

Excluding distressed sales, price gains were even larger. Home values rose 1 percent compared with the month before and were up 4.9 percent on a yearly basis.

Homes that have been seized by banks or are in danger of being foreclosed are often sold at significantly reduced prices.

Many economists believe the battered housing market has finally turned a corner this year as prices have stabilized.

Still, the report forecast prices will fall 0.3 percent in September as the traditional summer buying boost wears off. Prices are expected to be up 5 percent compared with a year before.

Stripping out distressed sales, prices are seen up 0.6 percent in September and up 6.3 percent from a year ago.

Of the top 100 statistical areas measured by population, 20 showed year-over-year declines, down from 26 in July.

Proxy advisory firm ISS receives SEC Wells notice

ROCKVILLE, Md., Tue Oct 2, 2012 – Investment analysis and market index company MSCI Inc. said its proxy advisory unit, Institutional Shareholder Services, received a Wells Notice on Sept. 14 related to a whistleblower complaint made against an employee of the unit.

The employee in question was found to have leaked client voting data to a proxy solicitor in return for meals and tickets to various events and was subsequently sacked in March.

The Securities and Exchange Commission may recommend a public administrative proceeding against ISS for violations under the Investment Advisers Act, MSCI said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

In the Wells Notice, the SEC said ISS’s systems allowed client account managers access to view voting information pertaining to any of the proxy firm’s clients as opposed to only those assigned to them.

A Wells Notice indicates the SEC plans to recommend that the commission take legal action, and gives a recipient a chance to mount a defense.

MSCI said ISS is cooperating with the SEC and does not expect the outcome of this matter to have an adverse effect on its business.

Shares of MSCI closed at $35.82 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Caterpillar sees slowdown in dealer sales growth

BOSTON ― Caterpillar Inc. said growth in dealer sales of its heavy equipment slowed in the three months ended July, particularly in North America, reinforcing concerns about the struggling U.S. economy.

The world’s largest maker of construction equipment said on Thursday that dealer sales ― an indicator of future revenue ― rose 35 percent worldwide over the past three months, a slower rate than the 45 percent growth reported in July.

Caterpillar shares were down 4.7 percent at $83.56 on Thursday morning, exceeding the 4.1 percent drop in the S&P 500 Index. .SPX Over the past year, Caterpillar shares have risen about 26 percent, outpacing the 10 percent climb of the Dow Jones industrial average.

Growth in North America slowed most dramatically ― to 27 percent from 50 percent ― and growth in the Asia-Pacific region dipped to 20 percent from 28 percent. Latin America was the one area to report an acceleration, with sales growth rising 1 point to 52 percent.

The report, which came in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, marked the third straight decline in the growth rate from the most recent peak of a 66 percent rise in dealer sales for the three months ended in April.

Caterpillar, whose competitors include Japan’s Komatsu Ltd (6301.T) and South Korea’s Doosan Infracore Co. Ltd. warned investors last month that economic growth in the United States and other developed economies had been slower than expected this year, and also warned of signs of sagging demand in China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

A report by the American Institute of Architects released on Wednesday also suggested nonresidential construction activity was slowing down in the United States. The slump in building homes and other buildings has contributed to the nation’s persistent high unemployment rate by reducing demand for blue-collar workers in the construction trade.