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Business news —Feb. 25

LOCAL BUSINESS

Spirit of Goodyear retires

The Spirit of Goodyear blimp has retired after 14 years of service.

The airship, once a common sight in Akron-area skies, flew from its Northeast Ohio base to Florida last fall for eventual decommissioning.

The blimp officially retired after providing aerial coverage Sunday of the annual Daytona 500 NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. said Monday. Guinness World Records said the blimp was the “Longest Continuous Operating Airship.”

The blimp, which officially launched March 15, 2000, will be disassembled, with the large envelope staying intact in Florida and used to store helium.

A new airship, the semi-rigid Goodyear NT model, will begin test flights next month from Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield Township.

AUTOS

Ford to revamp Focus

Ford is giving its Focus compact car a small face-lift and a more fuel-efficient engine as it tries to boost sluggish sales in the U.S.

The Focus, which Ford bills as the top-selling vehicle name in the world, will get some cosmetic updates inside and out for 2015. Ford will also equip it with the 1-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine that’s now available in Europe.

Gas mileage wasn’t released, but Ford says it will be better than the current Focus, which has a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine that can get 36-40 mpg on the highway. The smaller Fiesta with the 1-liter engine gets an estimated 45 mpg on the highway. The tiny engine accounts for almost one-third of Focus sales in Europe, where gas prices run about $9 per U.S. gallon.

Focus sales fell 4.6 percent last year in the U.S., even though compact car sales rose nearly 7 percent. Even big rebates — up to $2,500 — couldn’t halt the sales decline.

E-COMMERCE

Investor, eBay at odds

EBay and activist shareholder Carl Icahn are continuing their war of words over PayPal.

The billionaire has been pressuring the e-commerce company to spin off the online payment business. But eBay has said it’s not interested in separating its fastest growing segment.

On Monday, Icahn said in a blistering letter to shareholders that eBay’s “complete disregard for accountability at eBay is the most blatant we have ever seen” and called out two directors and the CEO specifically for “lapses in corporate governance.”

EBay responded that it continues to believe stockholders are best served by keeping PayPal as part of the company.

ACQUISITIONS

Clothiers raises bid

Men’s Wearhouse Inc. raised its bid for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. 10 percent to about $1.78 billion and offered to further increase the price if the target agrees to terminate a separate deal to buy Eddie Bauer.

The offer of $63.50 a share expires March 12, Houston-based Men’s Wearhouse said Monday. The bid could increase to $65 a share, or about $1.82 billion, if Jos. A. Bank ends the Eddie Bauer deal and lets Men’s Wearhouse conduct limited due diligence. Men’s Wearhouse also sued Jos. A. Bank on Monday, demanding that its poison pill takeover defense be declared invalid.

Men’s Wearhouse is seeking to win a takeover battle that Jos. A. Bank started in October with its own offer for its larger rival. Men’s Wearhouse turned down that proposal and countered with bids for Jos. A. Bank, including a previous offer of $57.50 a share, which were rejected as too low. Jos. A. Bank earlier this month agreed to buy Eddie Bauer in a deal that might create a company too big for Men’s Wearhouse to acquire.

WALL STREET

Dow up, but short of record

The stock market ended higher Monday, but a late fade kept it from closing at an all-time high.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended up 11.36 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,847.61 — just short of its record close of 1,848.38 set on Jan. 15. The momentum helped the index set a new intraday high of 1,858.76 earlier in the day, however.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 103.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 16,207.14 and the Nasdaq composite rose 29.56 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,292.97.

Compiled from staff, wire reports



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