LOCAL BUSINESS

Shareholder pushes Timken

A large activist shareholder wants Canton-based Timken Co. to spin off its steel business.

Timken responded saying it isn’t interested “at this time.”

The announcement by Relational Investors LLC, which in a filing shows it owns 5.7 percent of the ball bearings and specialty-steel manufacturer, caused Timken shares to jump the most in three years. San Diego-based Relational is now Timken’s single largest shareholder.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the nation’s second largest public pension fund with $154.8 billion in assets, has formed a group with Relational to promote the idea of spinning off Timken’s steel business, Relational said in the filing. The pension fund owns 0.4 percent of Timken shares, according to filings.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the proposal.

Timken stock rose $4.82, or 11.6 percent, to close at $46.23. The shares earlier climbed 15 percent, the most in intraday trading since March 10, 2009.

Timken released a statement late Wednesday saying its executives and board have previously looked at separating the steel and bearings businesses and found it did not make sense because of how interrelated they are.

“These synergies and benefits, coupled with a potential reduction in financial flexibility, among other factors, led the board to conclude that the separation of the businesses at this time would not be in the best interests of Timken shareholders,” James Griffith, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

STATE NEWS

IBM to create 500 Ohio jobs

IBM Corp. plans to ramp up its analytics operations in Ohio, bringing 500 jobs over the next three years to a new center that’s focused on data crunching and consulting services.

Company officials were expected today to announce plans to establish the center in suburban Columbus. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State University, were expected to attend the morning news conference.

The new hires at the center would build computer applications and models to allow businesses to better draw conclusions from vast amounts of data, said Ron Lovell, vice president of the IBM Client Center for Advanced Analytics.

He said the center’s employees could take chunks of information from an insurance company to help find out why customers might be choosing to jump to a competitor. Clients range from banks to the auto industry.

Lovell said such applications give businesses insights into consumer behavior that they otherwise might not have known.

“They’ll look at the data and make decisions they typically wouldn’t be able to make because they haven’t looked at such huge quantities of data,” Lovell said.

The IBM center will have ties to Ohio State, as part of the company’s plan to more easily find workers who are trained in analytics.

IBM is collaborating with the university on a new business and technology curricula for undergraduates and helping to beef up the current curriculum for graduate students. The company has already uploaded software for faculty to use in the classroom. Under the partnership with Ohio State, Lovell said the company envisions hosting internships for students and offering courses and seminars taught by IBM leaders.

Lovell said the company worked with JobsOhio, the state’s private job-creation entity, on incentives to expand in the Columbus area. He declined to discuss the terms as they had yet to be finalized.

Energy debate postponed

An attempt to rewrite the state’s energy-efficiency standards is likely dead until at least next year. FirstEnergy Corp., the leading supporter of the measure, said Wednesday that it no longer expects the legislature to take action in the next few weeks.

The Akron-based electricity provider hopes lawmakers will revisit the topic next year. FirstEnergy and other large electric utilities have said the costs of escalating energy efficiency standards are a drag on the economy.

“We remain concerned that Ohio’s energy efficiency mandates will continue to impose significant costs on electric customers — costs that we all pay, directly and indirectly,” spokesman Doug Colafella said in a statement.

The proposal, which would have been added to an unrelated measure, would freeze the energy-efficiency standard at its current level. The law, passed in 2008, says power companies must take action to reduce the electricity usage of customers, with annual goals that rise each year until 2025. This has led to programs that encourage customers to replace old refrigerators and get energy audits.

Some business and environmental groups oppose changing the standard. They argue that energy efficiency leads to lower electricity demand and lower bills.

Compiled from staff and wire reports