Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and American Express Co. are teaming up to offer low-income shoppers a prepaid card, touting it as a more affordable alternative to debit cards. Called Bluebird, the card is aimed at "customers who are disillusioned or excluded by the rising cost of banking services," the two companies said. The card will be available next week online and in Wal-Mart stores. Bluebird can be used anywhere that accepts American Express cards. Bluebird does not require a minimum balance and will have no monthly, annual or overdraft fees. Fees associated with the card include a $2 charge for using out-of-network ATMs to withdraw cash and $2 to add money from a debit card.Qatar Airways joins airline alliance
Qatar Airways is joining an alliance of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways and nine other carriers that coordinate routes and allow passengers to earn frequent-flier miles on each other's flights. Inclusion in the oneworld alliance signals the growing importance of Persian Gulf carriers such as Doha-based Qatar. It will take 12 to 18 months for Qatar to join the alliance. The oneworld alliance competes with SkyTeam, a group including Delta Air Lines, and the Star Team, which includes United Airlines and US Airways.Workers strike Learjet plant in Kansas
Machinists at the Bombardier Learjet plant walked the picket line early Monday, while the Wichita, Kan.-based company said it will continue operations during the strike. Workers rejected a five-year contract Saturday night and went on strike Monday. The rejected contract offered no raises the first year and a 1 percent raise for each subsequent year. The union represents 825 workers at the Wichita facility.Dish Network, Gannett reach deal
Dish Network Corp. and Gannett Co. said Monday they had reached agreement in a fee dispute that threatened to leave more than 2 million Dish subscribers in 19 markets -- including the Twin Cities -- without access to local television stations owned by Gannett. The companies didn't give further details. The old deal expired early Monday. Dish had claimed Gannett was asking for a 300 percent increase in fees for the right to carry 22 Gannett-owned stations. Gannett said it was seeking a deal in line with market rates. The two sides also fought over Dish's new digital video recorder, which allows customers to skip commercials when playing the previous night's broadcasts.YouTube expands into Europe
YouTube is extending its original programming initiative into Europe, with at least 60 new video channels from media companies including Britain's BBC, London-based FreemantleMedia and the Netherlands' Endemol. The Google Inc.-owned video site said Monday the new channels, with content from Britain, Germany, France and the United States, will be in addition to the 100 channels launched in the U.S. last year.Equity group buys Tampa Tribune
A private equity investment group has bought the Tampa Tribune newspaper from Media General Inc. for $9.5 million, the newspaper reported Monday. Virginia-based Media General Inc., is transferring ownership of the Tribune, its affiliated newspapers and TBO.com to the Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group. Media General owned the paper for 46 years. Media General will retain the NBC television affiliate, WFLA. However, the newspaper and television operations will continue their partnership in generating news content.BP selling Texas refinery to Marathon
BP PLC has agreed to sell its Texas City, Texas, refinery, site of one of the deadliest U.S. industrial accidents in 20 years, to Marathon Petroleum Corp. for at least $598 million in cash, less than BP planned for the deal when first announced last year. With $1.2 billion paid for inventories of oil and other products at the 451,000-barrels-a-day refinery, BP may eventually collect $2.5 billion. In 2005, 15 workers were killed and hundreds injured at the refinery when a unit used to boost octane in gasoline overflowed as it was being restarted, igniting a blast.
FROM WIRE SERVICES