Business digest: Judge gives airline merger one green light

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Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013 12:00 am

A federal judge has approved American Airlines' plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection and merge with US Airways, although the airlines must still resolve a lawsuit filed by the federal government seeking to block the merger.

A trial over that lawsuit is scheduled for November. Thursday's ruling by federal bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane in New York provides at least the perception that the merger is still moving forward.

The airlines hope to close the merger by the end of the year, if they can either settle the antitrust lawsuit with the U.S. Justice Department or win the case in court.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer says the Internet company now has about 800 million worldwide users, a 20 percent increase since she was lured away from Google 15 months ago to steer a turnaround.

The gain disclosed Wednesday at a technology conference in San Francisco is the latest evidence of progress that Yahoo Inc. is making under Mayer's leadership.

Mayer says the figure for the 800 million Yahoo users doesn't include the traffic that the company has picked up from its $1.1 billion acquisition of Internet blogging service Tumblr earlier this year.

The U.S. government has come up with window labels that show the gas mileage and pollution of used vehicles.

The Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency say the labels can be downloaded or viewed on the website www.fueleconomy.gov.

Labels are available for all vehicles sold in the U.S. since 1984. They show mileage and carbon dioxide emissions estimates.

The government says the stickers are valid for used cars because mileage changes little over a vehicle's 15-year life if it's maintained properly.

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages held steady this week, hovering near two-year highs. But rates could change quickly next week when the Federal Reserve addresses its bond purchase program.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan was unchanged from last week at 4.57 percent, and the 15-year fixed mortgage held at 3.59 percent.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn't really want to take his company public last year, but he has changed his mind now that the Internet social network's stock is steadily rising.

Zuckerberg told a San Francisco audience attending a technology conference this week that he believes the rigors of an initial public offering of stock completed 16 months ago turned Facebook Inc. into a stronger company.

“We run our company a lot better now,” Zuckerberg said during an onstage interview at the conference put on by AOL Inc.'s TechCrunch blog. “In retrospect, I was too afraid of going public. I have been very outspoken about staying private as long as possible, but I don't think it's that necessary to do that.”

The remarks came just a few hours after Facebook's stock hit its highest price since the IPO, which had been widely panned as a monumental flop until investors recently regained their faith in Zuckerberg and the Menlo Park, Calif., company.

Facebook's stock closed at $45.04 on Wednesday, slightly above the previous peak reached on its first day of trading in May 2012. It fell slightly Thursday, closing at $44.75.

Zuckerberg, 29, had resisted taking Facebook public for years because he worried he would lose control over the company that he co-founded in 2004 in his Harvard University dorm room. He was also concerned that Facebook's workforce would start focusing more on the company's stock price instead of building great products and services.

Now, he considers it to be “a valuable process” that helped him learn more about the best way to run Facebook.

“You have to just stay focused on doing the right stuff,” Zuckerberg said. “Sometimes it might take the market a little while to catch up and see the results of what you're doing.”

NEW YORK (AP) — Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. plans to raise $1.25 billion from an initial public offering of its common stock.

The company did not disclose in its filing Thursday how many shares would be offered or the anticipated price range.

The company said it plans to use the offering's net proceeds to pay back some of its debt. Any remaining funds will be used for general corporate purposes.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Kroger reported a higher net income for its fiscal second quarter as the nation's largest traditional supermarket operator booked lower charges and worked to build shopper loyalty with improved offerings.

The Cincinnati-based company lifted the low end of its fiscal 2013 outlook for a key sales measurement.

Kroger Co., which owns Omaha's Baker's Supermarkets, plus Ralphs, Fry's and other chains, said sales rose 3.3 percent at stores open at least a year during the quarter. Kroger earned $317 million, or 60 cents per share. That compared with $279 million, or 51 cents per share, in the 2012 second quarter.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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