News Archive


Hershey rejects $23 billion Mondelez takeover offer


Hershey Co (HSY.N) said on Thursday it had rejected a $23 billion preliminary offer by Mondelez International Inc (MDLZ.O) that would seek to expand the latter’s limited U.S. footprint and create the world’s largest confectioner.

The snub underscores the challenges Mondelez faces in wooing Hershey’s controlling shareholder, the Hershey Trust, a $12 billion charity created by the eponymous company’s founder a century ago.

The trust has been roiled by allegations of mishandling one of the country’s richest endowments. Hershey shares traded above Mondelez’s offer of $107 per share in cash and stock, indicating investors expected a new offer.

A merger of two of the world’s top five candy makers would bring Hershey’s strong U.S. business to Mondelez’s global footprint.

Earlier, a source said that Mondelez had sought to provide assurances to Hershey that it would keep its name and preserve jobs. Mondelez sees little antitrust risk given the limited geographic overlap of the two companies’ businesses, the source added.

“The board of directors of the company unanimously rejected the indication of interest and determined that it provided no basis for further discussion between Mondelez and the company,” Hershey said in a statement.

Hershey shares rose 16 percent to $113.05, while Mondelez rose 6.2 percent to $45.65.

Mondelez is the second-largest confectionary company globally while Hershey ranks number five, and their merger would put them in the top place at 18 percent of the market, according to market research firm Euromonitor International Ltd. The combined company would leapfrog Mars Inc, which has 13.3 percent of the global market.

A fusion of the two would give Oreos cookies maker Mondelez control over the production and distribution of its Cadbury brand chocolates in the United States, which Hershey currently holds the license to produce, paying royalties to Mondelez.

It would also give Mondelez the U.S. production and distribution rights for Kit Kat, one of the most popular chocolate brands in the world, which industry sources said would be a significant boost to Mondelez as a result of the deal.

Nestle SA (NESN.S) manufactures Kit Kat worldwide, but Hershey has the rights in the United States, paying Nestle royalties from sales.

HERSHEY TRUST

The bid pits Deerfield, Illinois-based Mondelez against the Hershey Trust, one of Pennsylvania’s wealthiest charities. The trust has about 81 percent of Hershey’s voting rights and in 2002 prevented the Hershey, Pennsylvania-based company from being acquired by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co for $12 billion.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general also sued to block the deal, arguing it would hurt the local community.

A charity created by Hershey founder Milton Hershey to provide for the Milton Hershey School, a private school for children from low-income families, the trust has been the subject of an investigation recently by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General over conflicts of interest and mismanagement.

The trust’s chief compliance officer was put on leave last month after a leaked memo showed the board had spent nearly $4 million investigating conflicts of interest and insider-trading accusations against board members. A top trust official was also sacked in May and pled guilty to wire fraud.

STARTING POINT

Tigress Financial Partners LLC analyst Philip Van Deusen said he expected the offer price to increase, given the rise in Hershey’s shares.

“I think ($107) is a good starting place,” he said.

Analysts have been skeptical of takeover bids for Hershey in the past. “The Trust … is outwardly very committed to keeping the company independent,” Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard said in June last year. “So it’s pretty much impossible for an activist to get involved or for the company to be bought.”

Last year, William Ackman revealed his activist hedge fund Pershing Square had built a stake worth about $5.5 billion in Mondelez, in what was seen as an attempt to push the company to boost earnings or sell itself.

Ackman joined fellow activist Nelson Peltz as an investor in Mondelez.

(Reporting by Lauren Hirsch in New York; Additional reporting by Chris Prentice in New York and Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Alan Crosby)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/oeGF_4goQQA/us-hershey-m-a-mondelez-intl-idUSKCN0ZG24O

Visa, MasterCard $7.25 billion settlement with retailers is thrown out


NEW YORK A federal appeals court on Thursday threw out a $7.25 billion antitrust settlement reached by Visa Inc (V.N) and MasterCard Inc (MA.N) with millions of retailers that accused the card networks of improperly fixing credit and debit card fees.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the accord was unfair to retailers that stood to receive no payments and, in the court’s view, little or no benefit at all. It also decertified the case as a class action.

“This is not a settlement; it is a confiscation,” wrote Circuit Judge Pierre Leval, a member of the three-judge panel that unanimously struck down the settlement.

The deal had been the largest all-cash U.S. antitrust settlement, though its value shrank to about $5.7 billion after roughly 8,000 retailers “opted out.”

Thursday’s decision is a blow to the credit card industry, which hoped the settlement would end a decade of litigation brought on behalf of about 12 million retailers against Visa, MasterCard and banks that issue their cards.

It was intended to resolve claims that merchants were overcharged on interchange fees, or swipe fees, when shoppers used credit or debit cards, and were barred from directing customers toward cheaper means of payment.

The settlement may now need to be renegotiated, or the case could go to trial.

“Swipe fees are an improper and unnecessary hidden tax on consumers,” said Jeffrey Shinder, a Constantine Cannon partner representing Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O), Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and other opponents of the accord. “The structure of swipe fees is back on the table.”

Visa spokeswoman Connie Kim said the Foster City, California-based company is reviewing the decision.

MasterCard spokesman Seth Eisen said the company, based in Purchase, New York, is disappointed in the decision and will review its next steps.

Visa shares closed down $2.57, or 3.3 percent, at $74.17. MasterCard fell $4.07, or 4.4 percent, to $88.06. The SP 500 Information Technology Index .SPLRCT, which includes both, rose 1.1 percent.

RETHINKING BEHAVIOR

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn had approved the settlement in December 2013, saying it offered “significant” damages and meaningful protections against future harm.

Many retailers and trade groups nevertheless objected. Some said the payout should have been higher. Others said the accord would have made it too hard to sue Visa and MasterCard.

Wal-Mart, in a statement, said the settlement would also have “stifled innovation around new payments technologies and left consumers facing continually increasing hidden swipe fees.”

Card issuers American Express Co (AXP.N) and Discover Financial Services (DFS.N) also objected to the settlement.

The National Retail Federation said retailers pay roughly $60 billion annually in swipe fees, which typically average around 2 percent.

Mallory Duncan, the group’s general counsel, told Reuters in an interview that the settlement would have “forever” shielded card networks from a variety of litigation, while giving retailers “at best” three cents on the dollar in damages.

Thursday’s decision “will give real incentives to the card networks to rethink their anti-competitive behavior,” he said.

Paul Clement, who led the appeal for retailers supporting the accord, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Card-issuing banks would have funded much of the settlement. JPMorgan Chase Co (JPM.N) and Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) had estimated they were responsible for roughly one-fifth and one-tenth, respectively, of a payout. Both declined to comment.

The settlement had called for retailers that accepted Visa or MasterCard from January 2004 to November 2012 to share in as much as $7.25 billion, with the ability to opt out.

Retailers that accepted the cards from then on, meanwhile, were to get injunctive relief in the form of rule changes, expiring in July 2021, and could not opt out.

Writing for the appeals court, Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs said these groups’ divergent interests meant they should not have been represented by the same law firms, which were awarded $544.8 million of fees.

While making clear he did not question the firms’ motives, Jacobs said the conflict “sapped” their incentive to zealously represent the retailers obtaining injunctive relief, and led to terms that benefited other retailers at their expense.

The case will return to the Brooklyn federal court, where it will be overseen by U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie.

The case is In Re: Payment Card Interchange Fee and MerchantDiscount Antitrust Litigation, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-4671.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by David Henry in New York, and Siddharth Cavale, Abhijith Ganapavaram and Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/fona25xVMGk/us-visa-mastercard-settlement-idUSKCN0ZG21E

U.S. opens investigation into Tesla after fatal crash in Autopilot mode


The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Thursday it is opening a preliminary investigation into 25,000 Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) Model S cars after a driver of one of the vehicles was killed using the Autopilot mode.

The agency said the crash came in a 2015 Model S operating with automated driving systems engaged, and “calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash.” The investigation is the first step before the agency could seek to order a recall if it finds the vehicles were unsafe.

NHTSA said in a statement the driver of the 2015 Model S was killed while operating in Autopilot mode in a crash on May 7 in Williston, Florida. NHTSA said preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection.

Tesla said in a blog post that this is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.

Tesla said “neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied.”

The company said “the high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.”

Tesla said that “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert. Nonetheless, when used in conjunction with driver oversight, the data is unequivocal that Autopilot reduces driver workload and results in a statistically significant improvement in safety when compared to purely manual driving.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson Additional reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/txONdH3SKlQ/us-tesla-investigation-idUSKCN0ZG2ZC

Dick’s wins auction for Sports Authority brand


Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc (DKS.N), the largest U.S. sporting goods retailer, said on Thursday it was the successful bidder in the auction for the intellectual property of bankrupt competitor Sports Authority with a bid of $15 million.

Dick’s shares jumped as much as 6 percent after Reuters first reported the development earlier, which ensures Dick’s will no longer be competing against the Sports Authority brand. Dick’s shares closed up 4.1 percent at $45.06.

Dick’s and Sports Authority still have to finalize paper work on the deal, and a U.S. bankruptcy court judge has to approve it, the company said in a regulatory filing. The bankruptcy court’s hearing to consider approval of the deal is scheduled for July 15.

The intellectual property of Sports Authority includes its e-commerce website, SportsAuthority.com, a loyalty program with 28.5 million members, and a list consisting of 114 million customer files, according to an advertisement for the intellectual property auction.

Sports Direct International Plc (SPD.L) submitted a bid of $13 million for the intellectual property, a source said. The British firm would be a back-up bidder if Dick’s is unable to close the deal, though that is not expected, the source added.

Dick’s said it also plans to take over the leases for 31 Sports Authority stores for an additional $8 million.

Other big box retailers scooped up Sports Authority leases. Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) took a single location, another source said. Target Corp (TGT.N) said it is looking at two locations in California.

The naming rights to a football stadium in Denver, Colorado, home of the National Football League’s Denver Broncos, are still up for grabs.

Sports Authority, with 464 stores across the United States, had been a formidable competitor to Dick’s. But the retailer struggled with a heavy debt load and competition from online giant Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), as well as retailer Wal Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N).

Dick’s could create an off-price chain under the Sports Authority brand, said Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at the NPD Group. Discount is a growing sector in retail, he said.

Sports Authority held a bankruptcy auction for its assets on Wednesday, and the process wrapped up early Thursday morning, the people said.

It filed for bankruptcy in March.

(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del.; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Bernard Orr)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/DUz2SwGGbzM/us-sportsauthority-bankruptcy-auction-ex-idUSKCN0ZG27S

Massachusetts judge asks about Sumner Redstone’s condition in hearing


A Massachusetts judge presiding over a case hinging on Sumner Redstone’s mental condition on Thursday peppered attorneys on both sides of the dispute with questions about the 93-year-old media mogul’s state of mind and how he communicates with people.

Judge George Phelan decided, however, not to hear arguments about whether Redstone should be subject to a medical examination immediately, and did not rule on whether the case should continue in Massachusetts – or even if it should continue at all – leaving the legal tussle over Redstone’s $40 billion media empire no closer to being resolved. “Obviously I have a lot of information to digest in just the motion to dismiss itself,” Phelan said on Thursday after a hearing that lasted more than five hours. “It’s going to take me a while to grasp all of that.”

The hearing was the latest episode in the legal wrangle over the fate of Redstone’s controlling stake in Viacom Inc (VIAB.O) and CBS Corp (CBS.N), which has been playing out on both U.S. coasts over the past several months.

The main issue before Phelan on Thursday was whether Redstone knew what he was doing when he removed Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and Viacom board member George Abrams from the seven-person trust that will control Redstone’s holdings when he dies or is incapacitated.

The trust, officially called the Sumner M. Redstone National Amusements Inc Trust, owns about 80 percent of Redstone’s privately held movie theater company, National Amusements Inc, which in turn owns 80 percent of the voting rights in both Viacom and CBS.

After their removal from the trust, Dauman and Abrams claimed in a lawsuit in the Massachusetts court that Redstone suffers from dementia, impaired cognition, a slowness of mental processing, a loss of memory, apathy, depression and has been manipulated by his daughter, Shari Redstone. Sumner Redstone has denied that in court filings.

In an effort to shed light on the matter, Phelan asked attorneys at Thursday’s hearing how Redstone communicated with his secretary, how his speech therapist understood what he was saying and whether she had expertise in doing so.

“Since October 2015, how does information get to Sumner Redstone … who is providing it?” Phelan asked attorneys for Sumner and Shari Redstone. He asked if intermediaries were involved, and how Redstone’s directions are conveyed to outside people.

The judge also asked if there was a medical test that could be used to gauge Redstone’s ability to make decisions about adding and removing members of his trust if the case goes to trial. The other issue in front of Phelan on Thursday was whether the case should be handled in Massachusetts, where National Amusements is based and where Redstone is from and lived for years, or in California, where he currently resides.

Redstone’s attorneys said the case should be moved as most of the witnesses, including all of Redstone’s nurses, were in California. Phelan noted that their testimony could be taken through affidavits.

The outcome of the Massachusetts court case, and who ends up with control over the trust, will have wide-ranging implications for Viacom and CBS shareholders and could result in changes at the top of both companies, possibly through mergers and acquisitions.

In May, Redstone defeated a similar mental competence lawsuit brought by an ex-girlfriend, Manuela Herzer, in a Los Angeles state court. That case had lasted several months before Redstone eventually stated his wishes under oath. Once he did, the judge quickly dismissed the case.

Phelan at one point seemed to question the California’s judge’s decision in that case and asked to see all of the depositions from both Herzer and Shari Redstone that were taken into account during that trial.

Phelan also asked to see the divorce agreement between Sumner Redstone and his ex-wife, Phyllis Redstone, through which the trust was created.

The result of the Massachusetts case also has implications for Viacom’s board. Earlier this month, Redstone and National Amusements moved to oust five of Viacom’s directors, including Dauman and lead independent director Frederic Salerno, asking a court in Delaware – the state where Viacom is incorporated – to rule that the changes were valid. That same day, Salerno fired back with is own lawsuit challenging the removal.

Last week, Judge Andre Bouchard of the Court of Chancery of Delaware said he planned to hold a hearing in July to listen to arguments about whether the move was valid, but indicated he hoped that the Massachusetts court would decide on Redstone’s competence.

(Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/YZZYTFmd70I/us-viacom-redstone-idUSKCN0ZG31F

Wall Street rallies for third day as Brexit bruises fade


Wall Street rolled to a third straight day of gains on Thursday as Britain’s central bank raised the prospect of stimulus and consumer staples shares gained on news of Mondelez International’s $23 billion bid for Hershey.

The major U.S. indexes each closed up more than 1 percent, tallying their best three-day run in four months. They have erased the bulk of their losses in the wake of Britain’s shock vote a week ago to leave the European Union that had set off the worst two-day decline for Wall Street in 10 months.

In the wake of the referendum, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday that the central bank would probably need to pump more stimulus into Britain’s economy over the summer.

“We’re reversing the ‘Brexit’ as it becomes evident that it was more of a political vote and decision than an economic decision,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BBT Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.

Stocks also might be benefiting as portfolio managers adjust their holdings at the end of the quarter, Hellwig said.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 235.31 points, or 1.33 percent, to 17,929.99, the SP 500 .SPX gained 28.09 points, or 1.36 percent, to 2,098.86 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 63.43 points, or 1.33 percent, to 4,842.67.

All ten SP sectors ended higher, led by a 2.2 percent climb for consumer staples shares .SPLRCS. Hershey (HSY.N) shares surged 16.8 percent after news that Mondelez (MDLZ.O) had made a takeover offer, which Hershey rejected, looking to create the world’s largest confectioner. Mondelez (MDLZ.O) gained 5.9 percent.

Investors are still bracing for volatility in coming weeks amid uncertainty about how Britain will pursue its EU exit, even as the SP 500, which was within 17 points of its May 2015 record high a week ago, closed out its third straight positive quarter.

“I think there will still be other times when we revisit ‘Brexit’ fears to some extent,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis. “But I don’t think it’s going to turn out to be near as big as people thought in terms of financial or economic fallout, and I’d get more prepared for breaking the new record highs.”

Adding to positive U.S. economic data from earlier in the week, factory activity in the U.S. Midwest surged to its highest in almost 1-1/2 years in June amid strong gains in new orders and production, offering a ray of hope for the downtrodden manufacturing sector.

Visa (V.N) fell 3.3 percent and MasterCard (MA.N) dropped 4.4 percent after a federal appeals court threw out an antitrust settlement the credit card companies had reached with millions of retailers. The stocks were the two biggest drags on the SP.

About 8.7 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the roughly 7.6 billion average over the past 20 sessions.

NYSE advancers outnumbered decliners by a 3.85-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, a 2.46-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The SP 500 posted 90 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 86 new highs and 31 new lows.

(Assitional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/HSYd0km_pg4/us-usa-stocks-idUSKCN0ZG1JL

Bank of England’s Carney sees need for summer stimulus after Brexit shock


LONDON Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the central bank would probably need to pump more stimulus into Britain’s economy over the summer after the shock of last week’s decision by voters to leave the European Union.

Carney also said he would not consider resigning from the Bank if his critics from the referendum’s Leave campaign, who were angered by his warnings of a Brexit hit to Britain’s economy, end up filling a power vacuum in the government.

“In my view, and I am not prejudging the views of the other independent MPC members, the economic outlook has deteriorated and some monetary policy easing will likely be required over the summer,” he said in a speech on Thursday.

Investors were already expecting the BoE to cut interest rates in July or August from an already record low of 0.5 percent – unchanged since 2009 – and ramp up its 375 billion pound bond buying plan too.

Nonetheless, Carney’s clear signal of further action to offset the Brexit shock pushed sterling down by more than 1 percent against the dollar to about a cent above the 31-year low it touched on Monday. The yield on 10-year British government bonds sank to a record low of 0.882 percent.

Carney said the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee would give an initial assessment of the impact of the referendum’s impact on July 14, at the end of its next scheduled meeting. That would be followed by a full assessment on Aug. 4, when the Bank will deliver a reworked set of forecasts for the economy.

“In August, we will also discuss further the range of instruments at our disposal,” Carney said.

Investors are facing a deeply uncertain political outlook after Prime Minister David Cameron said he would resign after losing a vote which will see the country separate from the EU, which buys almost half of Britain’s exports.

“The lesson from previous shocks is that there’s a value in acting early and acting decisively,” said RBC economist Sam Hill on Carney’s intervention. He said he expects to see a rate cut in July, followed by another in August coupled with a renewed asset purchase plan.

WON’T WALK

The lack of political leadership has heaped responsibility on the BoE to steer the economy.

Carney angered supporters of the Leave campaign before the referendum with his warnings about the consequences of a Brexit.

In response to a question from a reporter on Thursday, who asked if his position would become untenable if Leave campaigners take control of Britain’s government, Carney said: “The exact opposite.

“It would be irresponsible of me, or any of my other colleagues, to walk away from those obligations, because those are our obligations under statute,” he said.

In his speech, delivered in the Bank’s ornate Court Room, Carney said there were limits to how low the Bank could cut rates. “As we have seen elsewhere, if interest rates are too low or negative, the hit to bank profitability could perversely reduce credit availability or even increase its overall price.”

Carney said a first wave of contingency measures drawn up by the Bank and Britain’s finance ministry were “working well”.

He also said the Bank had “a host of other measures and policies” to steer the economy and Britain’s vast banking sector through the shock triggered by the referendum result.

Other central banks hold a clue to the options open to the British central Bank.

The BoE, which purchased small quantities of corporate bonds when it first started its quantitative easing program in 2009, could follow in the footsteps of the European Central Bank by buying them on a larger scale.

The BoE could also take further credit-easing steps to reduce the cost of bank loans to help spur investment.

The Bank will hold weekly sterling liquidity auctions between now and the end of September – instead of monthly – as a precaution in case banks run into problems getting hold of cash.

But Carney warned that central bankers on their own would not be able to eliminate the referendum shock and Britain’s economic growth prospects would be driven by “much bigger decisions; by bigger plans that are being formulated by others”.

He said it was important that Britain’s relationship with the EU was clarified as quickly as possible, including a decision on how open it will remain to migration, one of the most sensitive issues for British voters.

Carney and his fellow BoE policymakers will not have much hard data on how Britain’s economy has responded to the referendum jolt when they meet next month. Surveys of Britain’s manufacturing, construction and service sectors, covering the month of July, will be published only in early August.

(Additional reporting by Andy Bruce and Patrick Graham; writing by William Schomberg; editing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/SUWfxAP84DU/us-britain-eu-boe-idUSKCN0ZG26Y

Disney to buy stake in MLB’s video unit for $3.5 billion: Bloomberg


Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) has agreed to buy 33 percent stake in the video unit of Major League Baseball’s digital arm MLB Advanced Media in a deal valued at about $3.5 billion, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Disney will also retain a four-year option to buy an additional one-third stake, Bloomberg said. (bloom.bg/29ute4B)

Disney and Major League Baseball could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/VZ3iL3t9hn0/us-majorleaguebaseball-stake-walt-disney-idUSKCN0ZG2YF

Volkswagen believes it can fix 85,000 polluting U.S. vehicles


SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON A lawyer for Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) said at a court hearing Thursday the German automaker believed it could fix 85,000 polluting 3.0-liter VW, Audi and Porsche diesel cars and SUVs, a move that could help the company avoid a second pricey buyback.

Separately, a Justice Department lawyer, Joshua Van Eaton, said talks and tests were being conducted to resolve the fate of those vehicles, which could take months to rectify.

At the hearing, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer did not set a formal deadline to fix those vehicles, but set an Aug. 25 status hearing to get an update.

Earlier this week, VW agreed to spend up to $10.033 billion to buy back 475,000 2.0-liter diesel cars that emit up to 40 times the allowed level of pollution, and fix them if regulators approve it. VW also agreed to spend $4.7 billion on zero-emission vehicle efforts and diesel offset programs and $603 million to settle lawsuits with 44 U.S. states.

If VW were required to buy back the larger, more expensive 3.0-liter vehicles, it could add billions to its costs.

VW lawyer Robert Giuffra said the automaker believed the 3.0-liter vehicles were fixable and that the fix will not be “complicated” or negatively impact the vehicles’ performance.

The testing is to ensure the durability of the proposed fix, he said.

“The company believes that we can fix the 3.0 liter to the standards to which those cars were originally certified,” Giuffra said.

Van Eaton said the talks were highly technical and it “takes time to be fully confident that whatever is being proposed is a technically sound solution.”

Breyer will hold a July 26 hearing on the 2.0-liter agreements and could grant final approval to start buybacks early as October.

The 3.0-liter vehicles did not have the same “defeat device” that the 2.0-liter vehicles used but had undeclared auxiliary emissions-control devices that allowed them to emit up to 9 times the legally allowed level of pollution, much less than the 2.0-liter vehicles.

VW has been barred since November from selling new diesel 3.0-liter vehicles in the United States.

The vehicles at issue include diesel vehicles from the 2009-2016 model years, including the Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne Audi A6 and A7 Quattro, Audi A8 and Audi Q5 and Q7.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Article source: http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/cb53w7QLT8Q/us-volkswagen-emissions-idUSKCN0ZG2AG