DuPont CEO will step down; outlook cut
The DuPont Co. has announced the sudden retirement of Ellen Kullman as chairwoman and CEO. The company said Kullman, 59, will step down at the end of next week. Edward Breen, a DuPont board member, will serve as Kullman's interim replacement. DuPont also downgraded its operating earnings outlook, saying it now expects operating earnings per share for the full year of about $2.75, compared with prior guidance of $3.10. The company said the revised outlook primarily reflects continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar vs. currencies in emerging markets, particularly in Brazil, and a further weakening of agricultural markets, primarily in Brazil.
U.S. service sector growth fell last month
Growth in the U.S. services sector slowed in September as sales fell and new orders plunged, evidence that stock market volatility may have hit consumer confidence and limited spending. The Institute for Supply Management said that its services index fell to 56.9 last month from 59 in August, which was the second-highest reading in a decade. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. A measure of sales fell to 60.2, still a healthy reading, from 63.9. A gauge of new orders, however, dropped nearly 7 points to 56.7. That suggests sales growth may continue to cool in the coming months. The survey still points to solid sales and growth for services firms, including retailers, hotels, banks and other financial services companies.
Facebook to bring Net to Africa by satellite
Facebook Inc. said it would launch a satellite in partnership with France's Eutelsat Communications to bring Internet access to large parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite, part of Facebook's Internet.org platform to expand Internet access mainly via mobile phones, is under construction and will be launched in 2016, the companies said. The satellite, called AMOS-6, will cover large parts of West, East and Southern Africa, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. "To connect people living in remote regions, traditional connectivity infrastructure is often difficult and inefficient, so we need to invent new technologies," Zuckerberg said.
Tribune Publishing to offer buyouts
The owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers is offering buyouts to employees. Tribune Publishing announced them in a memo from CEO Jack Griffin to employees that was obtained by the Associated Press. The memo says the newspaper publisher needs to reduce costs but does not specify by how much. A separate memo to employees with more details on the buyouts says that after they are done, the company will determine if it needs to make "additional involuntary reductions" — layoffs. Griffin's memo said that nonunion employees with more than a year of service are eligible for a buyout. They have until Oct. 23 to decide whether to apply.
FDA orders examination of endoscope use
Federal health authorities are ordering manufacturers of specialized medical scopes to study how the reusable devices are cleaned following a series of life-threatening bacterial outbreaks at U.S. hospitals. The Food and Drug Administration said the three companies must submit plans to study how well hospital staffers actually follow instructions for disinfecting the endoscopes between uses. The agency hopes this information will shed light on a recent spate of infections involving antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" linked to the scopes. The FDA issued the instructions to Olympus American, Fuji Medical Systems and Hoya Corp. All three companies are based in Japan but do business through U.S. affiliates.
Bristol-Myers to pay $14.6M in China case
Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay $14.6 million to settle charges from U.S. regulators that its joint venture in China gave cash and other benefits to government health care providers to boost drug sales. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement of civil charges with the company, one of the largest drugmakers in the world. The SEC said sales personnel at the company's joint venture plied staff at hospitals owned or controlled by the Chinese government with cash, jewelry, meals, travel and entertainment to secure and expand prescription drug business. The drugmaker neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the settlement of alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Rolls-Royce to improve Indiana engine plant
Rolls-Royce announced plans to spend $600 million over the next five years to modernize a decades-old Indianapolis factory complex where it builds aircraft engines. The British company said the renovation of the plant will reduce its costs by replacing infrastructure and equipment dating back to World War II. The upgrade will add advanced manufacturing methods and consolidate the Indianapolis operations where engines are built for a range of military and commercial aircraft, as well as marine propulsion systems.