McDonald's to act on gestational crates

McDonald's Corp. said that it would begin working with its pork suppliers to phase out the use of so-called gestational crates, the tiny stalls in which sows are housed while pregnant. The U.S. pork industry generates sales of about $21 billion a year, according to the National Pork Producers Council. McDonald's, with its Sausage McMuffin, McRib sandwich and breakfast platters, consumes about 1 percent of the nation's total production. The fast food chain announced its decision in a joint statement with the Humane Society of the United States, which hailed it as a victory.

Apple seeks audits of work sites in China

Apple said that it had asked an outside organization to conduct special audits of working conditions inside Chinese factories where iPhones, iPads and other Apple products are manufactured. And it asked the organization to identify particular facilities where abuses are discovered. Apple said the group, the Fair Labor Association, started its first inspections Monday at a factory in Shenzhen, China, known as Foxconn City, one of the largest plants in China, with more than 230,000 workers. Human rights advocates have long said that Foxconn City's employees are subjected to long hours, coerced overtime and harsh working conditions, all of which Foxconn disputes.

Justice OKS sale of patent portfolios

The U.S. Justice Department has approved Nortel Networks Corp.'s $4.5 billion sale of its patent portfolio to a consortium of buyers that includes Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Research in Motion Ltd., EMC Corp, LM Ericsson AB and Sony Corp. The bankrupt Canadian company sold a portfolio that includes more than 6,000 patents and patent applications in a June bankruptcy auction. The Rockstar Bidco consortium offered five times more than Google's initial bid of $900 million. The department also cleared Apple's bid to acquire certain patents formerly owned by Novell Inc. CPTN Holdings had acquired those patents last April for $450 million on behalf of a consortium that includes Apple, EMC, Microsoft and Oracle Corp.

GE vows to hire 5,000 veterans

General Electric Co. plans to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years and invest $580 million to expand its aviation business. The announcements Monday were part of a four-day event that the global conglomerate is hosting with partners in Washington, D.C., that focuses on issues such as manufacturing and job creation in America. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt heads up President Obama's 27-member jobs council.

Bristol completes deal for Inhibitex

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said it's completed its $2.5 billion acquisition of Inhibitex Inc., a drug developer Bristol sought as part of its effort to become a player in the hepatitis C drug market.