News Archive


Mitsubishi Motors’ long-time president to step aside: sources


TOKYO (Reuters) – Mitsubishi Motors Corp (7211.T) will appoint Managing Director Tetsuro Aikawa to replace Osamu Masuko as president, while Masuko, who has led the automaker for the past nine years, will become chairman after stepping aside, sources close to the matter said on Friday.

The new structure will take effect on April 1, the sources said, declining to be identified because the decision is not public. Chairman Takashi Nishioka will resign, they said.

The management changes would come as Japan’s second-tier automaker seeks to leave behind an arduous decade of slumping sales and a tenuous capital structure that had threatened its standing in the increasingly competitive global auto industry.

Mitsubishi Motors this month raised more than $2 billion mainly to buy back preferred shares issued to sister companies in the Mitsubishi group, which funded the automaker’s bailout after a failed capital alliance with then-DaimlerChrysler and a debilitating recall cover-up scandal.

Mitsubishi Motors said in a statement that no decision had been made regarding any changes at the top. The planned management reshuffle was first reported in the Nikkei business daily on Friday.

Aikawa will be faced with the task of putting the car maker on a growth track by relying on operational tie-ups to save costs and make up for its lack of scale.

The maker of the Pajero and Outlander SUVs last year announced a potentially wide-ranging project-based alliance with Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) and Renault SA RENA.SA that would allow it to tap the Franco-Japanese group’s resources to develop cars jointly.

Aikawa, a 35-year veteran of Mitsubishi Motors, hails from an engineering background with expertise in product development and manufacturing. His father is a former president and chairman of the car maker’s top shareholder, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (7011.T), earning him the moniker “Prince” within the Mitsubishi conglomerate.

Masuko, 64, has won wide respect among investors since arriving in 2005 from trading house affiliate Mitsubishi Corp (8058.T) with the seemingly herculean task of reviving the battered carmaker.

(Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/ZMedEWBVQJQ/story01.htm

Experts predict Lenovo’s U.S. buys will pass regulatory muster


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials are likely to allow China’s Lenovo Group to buy IBM’s low-end server business and Google Inc’s Motorola Mobility handset business if it agrees to concessions aimed at protecting U.S. national security, experts said.

Computer maker Lenovo has advantages over other Chinese companies that should help it overcome the mutual suspicion between the United States and China over industrial spying and cybersecurity, such as its track record of successful U.S. acquisitions in the past. And importantly, it is not directly controlled by China’s government.

Even so, it could be in for a battle over its latest deals with at least one lawmaker expressing concern.

Lenovo said on Wednesday it would acquire Motorola Mobility, along with some 2,000 patents, for $2.91 billion. That news came days after an announcement the company would purchase IBM’s low-end server unit for $2.3 billion.

The deals will be reviewed by the inter-agency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, to ensure they do not threaten national security.

“We look forward to going through the regulatory process and we’re going to work with the regulators with an open and transparent approach,” Lenovo spokesman Brion Tingler said.

Lenovo has been through the secretive CFIUS process three times before and has won approval each time, according to a source familiar with the process.

The first was in 2005, when Lenovo bought IBM’s ThinkPad business in a deal that catapulted the company into the global technology big leagues. In that case CFIUS approval came to the dismay of Representative Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia and a tough critic of China.

Wolf said he discovered after that approval that the State Department had made plans to purchase Lenovo computers. “They were not able to cancel the purchases but made sure that none of them were used for anything,” he said.

“I just think we have to be careful,” said Wolf.

Lenovo also went through CFIUS reviews when it bought Stoneware Inc to expand cloud solutions and formed a strategic partnership with EMC Corporation. Both deals were announced in 2012.

It is not known what security concessions – if any – CFIUS wrung out of Lenovo in the previous transactions, but typical measures include having a security officer, a security plan or other steps aimed at preventing a foreign government from influencing a company in a way that would put U.S. security at risk, the expert said.

CFIUS may also require that only U.S. citizens handle certain products and services or demand that certain products be located only in the United States.

Lenovo has already been in touch with CFIUS about its latest U.S. deals, as is typical, said sources familiar with the process.

PATENTS IN FOCUS

A typical CFIUS analysis will touch on two sides – what threat may be posed by the foreign company involved and what vulnerabilities are exposed by the purchase, said Anne Salladin, a former Treasury official with CFIUS experience.

“I do think that both of these deals are likely candidates for mitigation measures,” said Salladin, who is now at the law firm Strook Strook Lavan LLP.

Another former government official with CFIUS experience, Jonathan Gafni, said the review of the Motorola Mobility deal likely would not focus on handsets but on more complicated patents.

Lenovo will receive more than 2,000 “patent assets” as part of the transaction, the companies said, although it is not known which ones will change hands. Gafni said regulators would want to give them extra scrutiny.

“There are already a ton of Chinese handsets being sold in this country,” said Gafni, now with Compass Point Analytics. “I think it could take some time to figure it all out, but I don’t see a big problem here.”

In the end, experts said, Lenovo was likely to win CFIUS approval.

“If there was a Chinese company that was well-positioned to see this deal come off, it’s Lenovo,” said Jim Lewis, a security expert with the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve done the dance before and they know what the steps are.”

CFIUS, which is headed by the Treasury Department, usually takes 30 days to review simple deals, but may take an additional 45 days on more complicated transactions.

Of the 23 transactions CFIUS reviewed in 2012, 10 were withdrawn and abandoned, according to the latest CFIUS annual report. One Chinese transaction was blocked in 2012 – the proposed purchase of an Oregon wind farm near a sensitive Navy installation.

(Editing by Peter Cooney, Ros Krasny and Stephen Coates)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/dEiwFAkn0pA/story01.htm

Microsoft board close to naming Nadella as new CEO: source


NEW YORK/SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp is likely to appoint its cloud-computing head, Satya Nadella, as its next chief executive, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday, as the board concludes a five-month search for a tech-savvy heavy-hitter to lead the world’s largest software company.

As part of the move, co-founder Bill Gates may step aside as chairman and be replaced by lead independent director John Thompson, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because the process is private. Gates would remain a director, the source added.

Bloomberg first reported the news on Thursday.

Rising star Nadella, a native of Hyderabad, India – where Microsoft has its largest non-U.S. research center – was promoted to run the company’s fast-expanding cloud, or internet-based, computing initiatives in July last year as part of current CEO Steve Ballmer’s radical re-organization of the company.

The appointment of the 22-year Microsoft veteran would make him the most powerful Indian-born tech executive in the world and put him alongside PepsiCo Inc’s chief, Indra Nooyi, as the leader of a well-known, large-cap U.S. corporation.

Born in 1967 and educated in India and the United States, Nadella’s tech career started at internet software pioneer Sun Microsystems. He joined Microsoft in 1992 and quickly climbed the corporate ladder with leading roles in the Office and Bing search-engine teams.

He was promoted to run the company’s server and tools unit in 2011. That unit now forms the backbone of Microsoft’s cloud-computing platform, which Nadella runs under his official title of executive vice president, cloud and enterprise.

“He’s a solid choice,” offering continuity of strategy and proven execution, said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen.

Some investors had campaigned for an external CEO who might be more likely to shake up the company and reward shareholders with greater dividends and share buybacks, but Parakh said that did not mean Nadella would be unpopular with Wall Street.

“Any new CEO is going to have to have the shareholders’ say in mind. But it’s not certain that will translate into actions,” said Parakh.

If Nadella is named CEO, it is likely Thompson will help out on the crucial task of managing Microsoft’s relations with its powerful Wall Street investors, the source said.

Nadella has little experience of that aspect of the job, and Ballmer and Gates did not prioritize it. Gates would likely focus on technical innovation in any new role, the source said.

There have been calls for months for Gates to step down from investors who believe Microsoft’s co-founder is a block to radical change and investor-friendly moves.

Ballmer, who plans to retire as soon as a new CEO is named, was reelected to the board in November, but it is not clear how long he will remain there after retirement, the source said.

Several people briefed on the CEO search process had previously told Reuters that Microsoft was down to a handful of candidates, including Nadella and Tony Bates, executive vice-president of business development, plus at least one external candidate.

The board still has not met to finalize Nadella’s offer and nothing has been signed, the source said. Microsoft declined to comment.

Microsoft shares rose 0.8 percent to $37.15 after hours, after gaining slightly in regular Nasdaq trading.

LONG SEARCH

Microsoft’s CEO search has taken longer than most expected when Ballmer said last August he would retire within a year.

In a blog post on the company’s website in December, Thompson emphasized the need for a CEO with “an ability to lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent”.

Thompson, who leads the four-member CEO search committee, said at the time he expected the panel to reach a decision “in the early part of 2014”.

The appointment of a company veteran like Nadella, which follows a flirtation with outsiders such as Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Alan Mulally, could disappoint some investors who want a more radical transformation at the software giant.

“While many on the Street are now expecting Mr. Nadella to get the CEO spot, we believe filling this position with a core Microsoft insider will disappoint those hoping for a fresh strategic approach (e.g. potential breakup of enterprise/consumer, Xbox spin off) an outside executive could have brought to the table,” FBR analyst Daniel Ives said in a research note, adding that innovation and fresh strategies were needed.

“With that said, we believe Mr. Nadella’s prior roles in the Online Services Division, Business Division and most recently as president of the Server and Tools business position him as a strong internal candidate with a broad set of knowledge around Microsoft’s massive product portfolio,” Ives wrote.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andrew Hay)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/7uKd24mecHQ/story01.htm

New York private equity manager, firm charged with $9 million theft


(Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Thursday it has charged a New York private equity manager and his firm with stealing more than $9 million from fund investors.

The government has frozen the assets of Lawrence E. Penn III and his firm, Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunity Management, another individual and three entities that may be related to the theft, according to an SEC release.

The SEC alleges that Penn used about $9.3 million from the fund to pay fake fees to Ssecurion, a company controlled by his longtime acquaintance, San Francisco-based Altura S. Ewers, who would then kick the money back to companies and accounts controlled by Penn.

Penn used the funds to rent luxury office space and pay commissions to third parties to secure investments from pension funds, according to the release.

Camelot’s auditors began to become suspicious of the fees in 2013 after Penn and Ewers lied and forged documents in order to cover up their scheme, according to the SEC.

“Penn held himself out as an ultra-sophisticated and well-connected investor in the private equity world,” Andrew M. Calamari, the director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office said in a statement. “Behind the scenes, Penn disregarded his obligations to the fund’s investors and treated their assets as his own personal and professional slush fund.”

A Camelot representative was unavailable to comment on the SEC charges. Contact information for Penn and Ewers was not readily available.

The SEC’s complaint, which was filed in a federal court in New York, charges Penn, two Camelot entities, Ewers and Ssecurion with violating U.S. securities laws. It seeks the disgorgement of ill-gotten gains with interest and applicable penalties.

Penn founded the private equity fund Camelot Acquisitions Secondary Opportunities LP in 2010, eventually securing capital commitments of roughly $120 million, according to the SEC. Camelot’s investments are primarily growth-stage private companies that want to go public.

(Editing by Stephen Coates)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/c39pqb3c9I0/story01.htm

Wall Street rallies on Facebook and GDP; Amazon sinks late


NEW YORK (Reuters) – The SP 500 scored its biggest gain in more than a month on Thursday as Facebook led a tech rally and data showed the U.S. economy was on solid footing in the fourth quarter.

The day’s rebound pushed the SP 500 back into positive territory for the week, but the index was still down 2.9 percent for the month.

Facebook Inc (FB.O) shares jumped 14.1 percent to end at $61.08, hitting a lifetime high of $62.50 during the session and supporting both the SP 500 and Nasdaq. The social media company delivered its strongest revenue growth in two years on Wednesday, beating analysts’ estimates.

Google Inc (GOOG.O) shares jumped 2.6 percent to $1,135.39, a day after Lenovo Group (0992.HK) said it would buy the Internet search giant’s Motorola handset division for $2.91 billion.

After the closing bell, Google’s shares extended gains by 4.6 percent when the company reported quarterly revenue that beat analysts’ expectations.

The SP 500 tech sector index .SPLRCT finished the regular session up 1.5 percent, ranking among the day’s best-performing sectors. All 10 SP sector indexes ended the day higher.

On Wednesday, each of the three major U.S. stock indexes dropped 1 percent after the Federal Reserve announced it would reduce its monthly bond purchases by another $10 billion.

Turmoil in emerging markets eased on Thursday as the hard-hit Turkish lira and South African rand rebounded.

“I think the rhetoric about emerging market currencies had settled down some … I’m not surprised to see the market really bounce back, especially in sectors that had been pretty hard hit,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

Adding to support, data showed U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, in line with expectations. Strong household spending and robust exports supported the growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 109.82 points or 0.70 percent, to end at 15,848.61. The SP 500 .SPX gained 19.99 points or 1.13 percent, to finish at 1,794.19, its biggest daily percentage gain since December 18.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 71.69 points or 1.77 percent, to close at 4,123.13, its best daily percentage rise since October 10.

Shares of Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) slid after the bell, tumbling 7.5 percent to $373 after the world’s largest Internet retailer reported sales for the holiday quarter with less growth than some had hoped for outside North America. During the regular session, Amazon’s stock had jumped 4.9 percent to close at $403.01.

After-hours gainers included Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG.N), whose shares jumped 9.5 percent to $541 following the release of the burrito chain’s results. Shares of video game maker Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O) surged 19.9 percent to $4.27 after the company said it would slash its workforce by 15 percent.

During the regular session, shares of Qualcomm (QCOM.O) rose 3 percent to $73.26, a day after the leading mobile chipmaker reported results. Qualcomm bumped up its full-year earnings outlook.

Among other gainers, Visa Inc (V.N) shares climbed 1.7 percent to $220.88 after the world’s largest credit and debit card company reported a 9 percent increase in quarterly profit as more people used its cards.

The day’s economic data also showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but the underlying trend suggested the labor market continued to heal.

Some analysts were recommending large-cap stocks in 2014 over small caps due to the sector’s high valuation and the impact of increased market volatility as the Fed continues to taper its stimulus efforts.

“Attractive relative valuations, improving global economic growth and higher long-term interest rates are all likely to benefit large caps more than their smaller counterparts,” said Mary Ann Bartels, chief investment officer for portfolio solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, in a note to clients.

Volume was just below average for the month. About 6.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the average of 6.9 billion so far this month, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq by slightly more than 3 to 1.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/zPY0WquHJPE/story01.htm

Amazon warns of possible loss, mulls Prime fee-hike


SEATTLE (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc missed Wall Street’s estimates for the crucial holiday period and cautioned investors about a possible operating loss this quarter as shipping costs climb, pushing its shares down more than 5 percent.

The world’s largest online retailer faced lofty expectations going into one of the most heavily competitive holiday seasons in years, with retailers vying to out-do each other with steep discounts. It was a contest that many retail industry executives have blamed on Amazon.

The Seattle-based company, which has spent freely to forge new markets in cloud computing and digital media, is experiencing slower growth at home after years of rip-roaring expansion, and its international business continues to underperform.

Amazon expects operating results for the current quarter to range from a $200 million loss to a $200 million profit, compared with a $181 million profit a year ago.

To cover rising fuel and transport costs, the company is considering a $20 to $40 increase in the annual $79 fee it charges users of its “Prime” two-day shipping and online media service, considered instrumental to driving online purchases of both goods and digital media.

Amazon has been trying to sustain its pace of growth by investing heavily in retail and distribution networks across the globe, while expanding into the technology realm with Kindle digital devices, cloud computing services and online media.

That has taken a toll on its bottom line. With revenue growth slowing as Amazon achieves unprecedented scale, analysts said investors may be getting impatient.

“Amazon’s gotten so many hall passes on earnings,” said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, adding that pressure on the company to produce profit is now rising. “Perhaps the market expectations for them to deliver income, as their revenue growth slows” is increasing, said Gillis.

Amazon now has to tread carefully as it ponders a Prime fee-hike, which could boost revenue and earnings but also risks alienating tens of millions of existing customers or discouraging new ones.

Executives said no decision had been made but stressed that they had not touched the fees since Prime’s inception.

“When we launched Prime nine years ago, one of the things we hoped for was customers do a lot more cross-shopping, that they would buy more from us,” CFO Tom Szkutak told analysts on a post-results conference call.

“And we’ve seen that trend.”

PATIENCE A VIRTUE?

Amazon’s growth beyond the United States has struggled amid economic malaise in Europe and parts of Asia. At home, the company is still faring better than its fellow retailers, in part because of a steadily improving distribution system anchored by a growing web of giant warehouses, that helps keep costs down.

Retailers in general faced the most promotional 2013 holiday season since the recession, trying to outdo one another with deep discounts to lure shoppers. That has pressured traditional retail chains such as Sears and Kmart.

Also, Amazon’s net shipping costs in the period jumped 19 percent to $1.21 billion.

The company more than doubled net income to $239 million, or 51 cents per share. Analysts had expected 66 cents, on average.

Net sales grew 20 percent to $25.6 billion in the fourth quarter, versus expectations for just above $26 billion and slowing from the 24 percent of the previous three months.

North American net sales in particular grew 26 percent to $15.3 billion, from 30 percent or more in the past two quarters.

International sales rose just 13 percent, below Wall Street expectations.

The company forecast revenue of $18.2 billion to $19.9 billion in the first quarter, a conservative outlook relative to Wall Street’s expectation for about $19.7 billion in sales.

Shares in Amazon were down to $382.50, from a close of $403.01 on the Nasdaq. The stock was down more than 10 percent at one point in extended trading.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby and Edwin Chan; editing by Andrew Hay)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/kcWaiMYDLPw/story01.htm

Toyota tells U.S. agency seat issue could lead to recall


DETROIT (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) has alerted U.S. safety officials that seat material in several vehicles, including its top-selling Camry sedan, fails to meet fire retardation standards and could result in a recall.

Toyota said on Thursday it had stopped selling eight recent-model vehicles equipped with seat heaters in North America following an advisory about fire risk from South Korean safety officials. The world largest automaker said it did not believe a recall was necessary, however.

South Korea applies the same fire retardation standards as those used in the United States, where the cars were built starting in August 2012. Some of the U.S.-built models were exported to South Korea.

The Japanese automaker said there have been no reports of fires or injuries related to the problem. The safety standard requires a certain burn rate as a flame moves across the seat heater’s cloth pad.

Toyota said the number of affected vehicles at its U.S. dealers totaled about 36,000, or about 13 percent of dealer inventory, but that does not include vehicles in transit to dealers or those already sold to consumers. In the United States alone, the number of affected vehicles could top 111,000, according to research firm Kelley Blue Book.

From the hit it took to its quality reputation during past recalls related to unintended acceleration, Toyota has learned that it cannot delay action on these issues, Kelley Blue Book analysts said. But the decision to stop selling high-volume models with seat heaters will be costly.

“The timing of this issue, and its impact on Toyota’s most popular models, couldn’t be much worse,” Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said. “Given that much of the U.S. is currently in the grips of a record cold snap, there’s sure to be high demand for models with seat heaters.

“Toyota officials appear confident there is no risk and as a result they feel any hit to the company’s reputation would be short-lived and less costly than a full recall,” he added.

From late 2009 to early 2011, Toyota recalled nearly 19 million vehicles globally related to unintended acceleration claims. In 2010, Toyota President Akio Toyoda apologized for the company’s handling of the recalls and said he would insist on customer safety first.

Toyota was fined $17.35 million in December 2012 for being slow on a recall, still the single highest civil penalty ever paid to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for violations stemming from a recall.

In July 2013, a U.S. judge approved a settlement valued at more than $1.6 billion to resolve economic-loss claims resulting from the alleged safety defects. The company is still trying to settle related personal-injury lawsuits.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said on Thursday the company has informed NHTSA of the fire retardation problem and would file an official report outlining the noncompliance with the standard. He added that Toyota did not feel a recall was necessary.

The petition that Toyota will file with NHTSA says the problem is “inconsequential” in terms of vehicle safety, even though the cars are no longer being sold by dealers because they do not meet U.S. safety standards, he said.

The U.S. safety agency said it was aware of the upcoming petition and would seek public comment once it had been filed.

“NHTSA is monitoring the risk associated with this noncompliance and will evaluate Toyota’s petition once it is received,” the agency said in an emailed statement. “As always, safety is our top priority and NHTSA will take appropriate action as warranted.”

Affected vehicles are the 2012-2014 Camry mid-sized sedan and Camry hybrid; 2013-2014 Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Sienna minivan, and Tacoma pickup truck; and 2014 Corolla subcompact and Tundra pickup truck equipped with seat heaters that have been sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed, Hanson and NHTSA said.

From the start of August 2012 through the end of 2013, Toyota in the United States sold 1,396,807 of the affected models, including those without seat heaters, according to Kelley Blue Book. Eight percent of the 2013 and 2014 model-year vehicles were sold with seat heaters, suggesting more than 111,000 in the United States have the noncompliant parts, KBB said.

Toyota dealers have been told to stop selling any of the affected vehicles until the seat heater can be replaced, Hanson said. The automaker will address requests by individual owners to replace the part at no cost on a case-by-case basis.

(Additional reporting by Yoko Kuboto in Tokyo; Editing by Dan Grebler; Peter Galloway and Tom Brown)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/-z5Ec9XCvXk/story01.htm

Apple, Samsung spar over potential U.S. ban on smartphone sales


SAN JOSE, California (Reuters) – Samsung sought to defeat Apple’s bid for a permanent sales ban against some Samsung smartphones, arguing in court on Thursday that Apple’s request was an attempt to instill fear among telecom carriers and retailers that carry Samsung’s products.

At a hearing in federal court in San Jose, California, Samsung attorney Kathleen Sullivan told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that the injunction would give the iPhone maker an opening to come back to court quickly and argue that newer Samsung products should also be banned.

“An injunction would create fear and uncertainty for the carriers and retailers with whom Samsung has very important customer relationships,” Sullivan said.

Apple attorney William Lee said that a jury has already found that nearly two dozen phones infringed Apple patents, and that Apple Inc has lost sales to a direct competitor.

“The natural, inexorable result is an injunction,” Lee said.

Apple’s request for the permanent injunction stems from the companies’ legal fight over various smartphone features patented by Apple, such as the use of fingers to pinch and zoom on the screen and design elements such as the phone’s flat, black glass screen. Apple has won U.S. jury verdicts against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd totaling about $930 million.

Koh had previously rejected such a sales ban, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ordered her to reconsider in November.

Even though Samsung no longer sells the older-model phones targeted by the injunction request, Apple has argued in court documents that such an order is important to prevent Samsung from future copying with new products “not more colorably different” than the defunct models.

Sullivan, the Samsung lawyer, argued that the injunction would allow Apple seek other bans on new products on a much faster timeline than through traditional patent litigation, which can take years.

Koh did not say when she would rule on the request.

The chief executives for Apple and Samsung have agreed to a mediation session, which will take place by February 19. The two companies are scheduled to begin another trial in San Jose in March over a separate batch of patents that involve Apple’s Siri search technology.

Samsung’s phones use the Android operating system, developed by Google. Samsung and Google announced a global patent licensing deal this week.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California is Apple Inc vs. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, 11-1846.

(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Amanda Kwan)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/uJ0XqEI9B5o/story01.htm

Microsoft board preparing to name Nadella as CEO: report


SEATTLE (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp’s board is preparing to name internal executive Satya Nadella as the software company’s next chief executive, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources it said were briefed on the CEO search process.

The board is also considering replacing Chairman Bill Gates, possibly with lead independent director John Thompson, Bloomberg said.

Sources had previously told Reuters that Microsoft was down to a “handful” of candidates, including Nadella, executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group, and Tony Bates, executive vice president of business development, plus at least one external candidate.

Bloomberg added the Nadella plans had not been finalized. Microsoft declined to comment.

Microsoft shares rose 0.8 percent to $37.15 after hours, after gaining slightly in regular Nasdaq trading.

Nadella, a native of Hyderabad, India, was promoted to run Microsoft’s fast expanding internet-based computing initiative in July last year as part of current CEO Steve Ballmer’s radical re-organization of the company.

Before that he was in charge of Microsoft’s growing server and tools business, following on from high-level roles in Microsoft’s Office and Bing search engine units.

“He’s a solid choice,” offering continuity of strategy and proven execution, said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen,

Some investors had campaigned for an external CEO who might be more likely to shake up the company and reward shareholders with greater dividends and share buybacks, but Parakh said that did not mean Nadella would necessarily be unpopular with Wall Street.

“Any new CEO is going to have to have the shareholders’ say in mind. But it’s not certain that will translate into actions,” said Parakh.

There have been calls for months for Gates to step down from a group of investors who believe the company’s co-founder is a block to radical change and investor-friendly moves at the technology giant.

Some investors have urged Thompson to consider the CEO role himself, sources told Reuters this week. One person close to the board told Reuters on Thursday that Thompson was not in the frame to lead the company, but did not rule out a senior executive role, such as Chairman.

Microsoft’s CEO search has taken longer than most expected when Ballmer announced his plan last August to retire within a year.

In a blog post on the company’s website in December, Thompson emphasized the need for a CEO with good tech bona fides and “an ability to lead a highly technical organization and work with top technical talent.”

Thompson, who leads the four-member CEO search committee, said at the time he expected the panel to reach a decision “in the early part of 2014.”

The appointment of a company veteran like Nadella, which follows a months-long search and long flirtation with outsiders such as Ford Motor Co Chief Executive Alan Mulally, could disappoint some investors who were hoping for a more radical transformation at the software giant.

“While many on the Street are now expecting Mr. Nadella to get the CEO spot, we believe filling this position with a core Microsoft insider will disappoint those hoping for a fresh strategic approach (e.g. potential breakup of enterprise/consumer, Xbox spin off) an outside executive could have brought to the table,” FBR analyst Daniel Ives said in a research note, adding that innovation and fresh strategies were essential for the company.

“With that said, we believe Mr. Nadella’s prior roles in the Online Services Division, Business Division, and most recently as president of the Server and Tools business position him as a strong internal candidate with a broad set of knowledge around Microsoft’s massive product portfolio,” Ives wrote.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Bernard Orr and Andrew Hay)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/KFxDI-5cfUQ/story01.htm