World briefs

  • Article by: Wire services
  • Updated: February 25, 2013 - 9:21 PM

Global business

Gold prices hit six-month lows last week. One explanation as to why the shine has come off the precious metal is that stock markets have been more stable than at the height of the eurozone crisis, so investors are less tempted by gold as a haven.

Yet another big mining firm changed its chief executive. BHP Billiton announced that Marius Kloppers will step down in May and be replaced by Andrew Mackenzie, who heads BHP’s nonferrous-metals division. Mining companies are retrenching after years of ambitious projects. BHP’s half-year net profit fell by 58 percent.

The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission began separate investigations into possible insider trading. The investigation follows the Feb. 14 announcement by Heinz that it is being bought for $28 billion by a consortium led by Warren Buffett and a private equity firm. It is the largest-ever acquisition of a firm that makes food and nothing else.

Nestlé withdrew some beef-pasta dishes from the shelves of shops in France, Italy and Spain after finding traces of horse DNA in them. The Swiss food giant is among the companies to be hit by the horse meat scandal that is galloping across Europe, raising questions about the integrity of meat-supply chains.

Office Depot and Office Max agreed to merge. The two retailers are smaller rivals to Staples. All have seen challenges arise to their business, not only from Amazon but also from the spread of hand-held devices that contain calendars, diaries, notebooks and so on. Rumors persist that Staples is considering going private in a buyout.

Sony unveiled the PlayStation 4, beating Microsoft in launching a product that heralds the next generation of game consoles. Sony’s device connects better with smartphones and tablets than did its predecessor.

The New York Times Co. put the Boston Globe up for sale again. It tried to sell the newspaper in 2009, but withdrew the offer after unions agreed to a cost-cutting strategy. The Times Co. is focusing on turning the New York Times into a global news hub.

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