Windows division president leaves Microsoft

Microsoft has unexpectedly parted ways with Steven Sinofsky, president of its lucrative Windows division and an executive often mentioned as a possible successor to CEO Steve Ballmer. In a surprise announcement made late Monday evening, Microsoft said that Sinofsky would leave the company immediately after a 23-year career there. His departure comes just weeks after Microsoft released Windows 8, the company's biggest overhaul to its flagship software product in two decades. Sinofsky's departure raises questions about how Microsoft will prepare itself for a new generation of leadership. "I am grateful for the work that Steven has delivered in his time at our company," Ballmer said in an e-mail sent to all Microsoft employees.

Leucadia buying investment banking firm

Leucadia National is buying the investment banking firm Jefferies Group in a deal valued at about $3.6 billion. Leucadia, a conglomerate that has been likened to a "baby Berkshire Hathaway" because of the wide range of its holdings, already owns about 28.6 percent of Jefferies. After the deal closes, Jefferies shareholders will own 35.3 percent of the combined company. The deal will give Jefferies a deep-pocketed owner as it continues to build out a full-service investment bank. As part of the deal, Jefferies Chairman and CEO Richard Handler will become the CEO of Leucadia. Leucadia's Chairman and CEO Ian Cumming will retire but remain on the board. Leucadia President Joseph Steinberg will become chairman.

Apple reaches settlement with HTC

Apple has shut down one front in what Steve Jobs, the company's late chief executive, once described as a thermonuclear legal war against Android, Google's mobile operating system. Late Saturday, Apple and HTC, the Taiwanese smartphone maker, announced they had agreed to dismiss a series of lawsuits against each other, a feud that started more than two years ago when Apple accused HTC of copying the iPhone. The companies said their settlement includes a 10-year license agreement. They declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal, though it is widely believed HTC is paying Apple. The accord may also serve as a blueprint for Apple to resolve patent disputes with Samsung Electronics Co. and Google's Motorola Mobility business, said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

Money-market pioneer, son cleared of fraud

Regulators failed Monday to win a clear victory over the father-and-son team whose mutual fund failed in one of the signal events of the 2008 financial crisis. A New York federal jury rejected claims by the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bruce Bent, the inventor of a popular investment vehicle called a money market fund, defrauded investors when his flagship fund collapsed in September 2008. The collapse was particularly galling because the fund, the Reserve Primary Fund, run by Bent and his son, Bruce Bent II, was pitched to investors as a nearly risk-free alternative to a bank account. The fund ended up foundering under the weight of hundreds of millions of dollars of bonds issued by Lehman Bros. that became worthless with Lehman's bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008.

BlackBerry 10 to make debut in January

BlackBerry 10 is making its debut in January after a lengthy delay, but it may be too little, too late for troubled Research in Motion Ltd. The latest operating system is a crucial product for the Canadian company, which has seen both its stock market value and consumer perception plummet in just a few years. BlackBerrys were once the go-to phone for corporations and everyday smartphone users but have since been overshadowed by Apple Inc.'s iPhone and devices running Google's Android operating system. RIM said Monday that it would launch BlackBerry 10 on Jan. 30. The company will also unveil the first two smartphones that will run on the platform and announce when they will go on sale.

Toronto retailer Leon's buys competitor

Leon's Furniture Ltd., a Toronto retailer founded in 1909, said its purchase of competitor The Brick Ltd. for $700 million will give it the purchasing power to lower prices and compete with U.S. retailers such as Target Corp. The deal, set to close in the first quarter of 2013, has support of the two-thirds of The Brick shareholders needed, according to a statement Sunday. The deal will allow the combined company to put in the kind of marketing services, added services and e-commerce initiatives needed, said John Torella, a senior partner at retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group in Toronto. Target reiterated last month that it plans to open 124 stores in Canada in 2013 after agreeing to buy store leases from Hudson Bay Co.'s Zellers unit.

Kodak reaches deal to borrow $793 million

Struggling photo pioneer Eastman Kodak Co. said Monday that it has reached an agreement to borrow $793 million, an important step in letting it leave bankruptcy protection in the first half of next year. The deal is contingent on Kodak being able to sell its patent portfolio for at least $500 million, which it has been trying to do for more than a year.