BOOKS

Barnes & Noble plans layoffs

Barnes & Noble, which announced a round of layoffs this week, is pointing to new staffing rules that will allow stores to increase or decrease the number of people on the clock depending on need.

The nation’s largest book chain said Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the change will lead to annual cost saving of $40 million.

The company insists that the staff cuts will not affect customer service.

Barnes & Noble said Monday that it was trimming its workforce after a weak holiday shopping season. It did not say how many people were being let go.

The New York bookseller, which has struggled to compete with Amazon, said last month that sales at established locations slid 6.4 percent during the holidays.

PENSIONS

Budget deal spawns panel

The bipartisan budget deal reached last week by the U.S. Senate also will create a bipartisan joint House and Senate Committee aimed at solving a pension crisis that is endangering the pocketbooks of more than 60,000 Ohioans and 1.5 million workers and retirees across the country.

The panel will include three Republicans and three Democrats from both the House and Senate — 12 members total — and will hold at least five public meetings, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

At issue are multi­employer pensions created to allow employers to pool resources and provide their workers retirement security. Among them: Central States, a pension program that claims some 50,000 members in Ohio.

SKYSCRAPERS

Tower seeks a new signature

Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center along Michigan Avenue is getting a new name.

One of the skyscraper’s owners told the Chicago Tribune that for now the building will be known as 875 N. Michigan Ave. while a new naming rights deal is sought. Hearn Co. President and CEO Stephen Hearn says the insurance company “just decided to have their name removed.” Its name and logos throughout the building will be taken down immediately.

The insurer, acquired by Toronto-based Manulife Financial in 2004, hasn’t been a tenant for many years. Manulife representatives didn’t respond to requests for comment from the newspaper.

The building is the fourth-tallest in Chicago at 1,128 feet and is known for its black, X-shaped braces. Hearn says it “deserves a more important identity than simply the address.”

INSURANCE

Whistleblower case advances

A whistleblower case alleging that UnitedHealth Group defrauded the federal Medicare program can move forward, a federal judge ruled Monday, although the decision narrowed the set of claims that the government might pursue.

The ruling came in a case brought by a former UnitedHealth Group employee in Minnesota alleging the company submitted false information about patient conditions to collect higher payments.

It was unsealed a year ago after the federal government joined the case. They alleged that UnitedHealth Group, based in Minnetonka, Minn., engaged in “one-sided” reviews of patient charts, looking for ways to boost payments without correcting erroneous data that would lower reimbursement.

RESTAURANTS

Chipotle hires Taco Bell CEO

Chipotle has named Taco Bell executive Brian Niccol as its next CEO as the burrito chain keeps trying to rebuild its business after a series of food safety scares.

Niccol, who will start at Chipotle next month, has been CEO of Yum Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell chain for three years. He’ll be tasked with helping turnaround the burrito chain.

Chipotle CEO and founder Steve Ells announced last year that he would step down in the CEO role and become executive chairman.

After the announcement, shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. soared 11 percent in extended trading Tuesday.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.