The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 17, 2018 1:00 am


GE Capital's woes revive breakup talk

News services

BOSTON – General Electric Co. is signaling it may undergo a more comprehensive transformation, a decade after breaking off substantial pieces of the multinational conglomerate in a bid to a return to its industrial roots.

CEO John Flannery, who was put in charge of reviving the company last summer, on Tuesday revealed significant issues with GE Capital's insurance portfolio that will lead to a $6.2 billion after-tax charge in the fourth quarter.

GE Capital, the company's finance division, will also suspend its dividend to the parent company for the foreseeable future.

Flannery has said he wants GE to be a smaller and more focused, concentrating on three divisions: energy, aviation and health care. He has emphasized that each business must deliver and that more direct links between performance and reward were critical.

Nestle selling candy business to Ferrero

Swiss food and drink giant Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Italy's Ferrero for about $2.8 billion in cash.

Ferrero will take over iconic chocolate brands Butterfinger and Crunch bars, as well as the sugary Nerds, SweeTarts and FunDip.

After a review of its portfolio last summer, Nestle hinted that it might sell its U.S. business, with its eye on higher-growth areas like pet care, coffee and infant nutrition. Nestle says its U.S. candy business accounts for about 3 percent of its U.S. division's sales.

Bureau to reconsider payday lender rules

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has decided to reconsider a key set of rules enacted last year that would have protected consumers against harmful payday lenders.

The bureau, which came under control of the Trump administration late last year, said in a statement Tuesday that it plans to take a second look at the payday lending rules. While the bureau did not submit a proposal to repeal the rules outright, the statement opens the door for the bureau to start the process of revising or even repealing the regulations. The bureau also said it would grant waivers to companies as the first sets of regulations going into effect later this year.

UnitedHealth sees earnings double

UnitedHealth Group's earnings more than doubled in the final quarter of 2017, and the nation's largest insurer hiked its forecast well beyond expectations largely due to help from the federal tax overhaul.

UnitedHealth said Tuesday that it added $1.2 billion in 2017 non-cash earnings, as its fourth-quarter and full-year corporate tax rates were cut.

The $1.5 trillion tax cut plan that Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump sped into law last month also has prompted other companies to raise forecasts for the new year and announce employee bonuses.

Online shoppers spend record total

Shoppers spent a record amount online during the holiday season.

That's according to Adobe Analytics, which reports online shopping during the holiday season reached $108.2 billion, up almost 15 percent from $94.4 billion the year before. The research arm of software maker Adobe says more than a third of online holiday revenue came from purchases made on smartphones or tablets.

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