Shares of Barnes & Noble (BKS) soared 24 percent after a report from TechCrunch that Microsoft (MSFT) is considering a bid for the retailer’s Nook e-book business. According to internal documents cited by the website, Microsoft has offered $1 billion for the digital assets of Nook Media. Microsoft made a $300 million investment last year to develop Nook content for Windows 8 tablets. The Nook has been losing money and sales have been sagging for at least a year. Barnes & Noble has struggled to compete with Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader.
It may soon be easier for airline passengers to watch streaming videos and check their e-mail. The FCC wants to improve wi-fi access for fliers. The commission approved new rules to boost the spectrum available for broadband service on planes. The new system would introduce a faster, more reliable in-flight service. The proposal may also lead to increased competition and lower prices. In-flight service is now usually limited to about 3 megabits per second per plane – one-third the average wired broadband speed.
The disgraced former boss of Enron, Jeffrey Skilling, may get out of prison within four years if a federal judge approves a sentencing agreement with prosecutors. The deal cuts up to 10 years off Skilling’s 24-year sentence. In exchange, the former Enron CEO, who was at the center of one of the biggest frauds in business history, would drop his attempt for a new trial. Skilling would also abandon attempts to claim up to $40 million in forfeited assets. A Justice Department spokesman says that money will go to the Enron Fair Fund for investor victims. US District Judge Sim Lake said he would take into consideration comments by ex-Enron employees, investors and other victims before accepting or rejecting the deal. Skilling has served more than six years of his 2006 sentence for fraud, conspiracy and insider trading.
A surge for stocks in Japan as US markets take a breather. The Nikkei index rose nearly 3 percent overnight as the dollar hit a four-year high against the yen. A weaker Japanese currency is a plus for exporters there. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been working to stimulate the economy using an easy-money policy that’s similar to what the Federal Reserve has in place. The Dow Jones index closed yesterday down 22 points after a series of impressive gains.
California’s attorney general is suing one of the largest banks, alleging JP Morgan Chase & Co. used illegal tactics in its debt collection efforts against about 100,000 credit card holders. The case filed in Los Angeles says the company filed thousands of debt collection lawsuits each month between 2008 and 2011 using improper practices that shortcut procedures required under California law. A company spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. State Attorney General Kamala Harris says Chase’s methods included “robo-signing” legal documents as it flooded the court system seeking judgments and wage garnishment orders against borrowers. Robo-signing was widely used in mortgage foreclosures until it was outlawed.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc