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Business briefs


Federal Reserve forum looks to boost small-business lending

The Federal Reserve says it will hold a forum next week to explore ways to improve the flow of lending to small businesses. It's the latest effort by the Fed to tackle the problem, which dates back to the 2008 financial crisis. Congress and the White House also want to see banks lend more to small businesses. Leaders from small businesses, trade groups and financial institutions will participate in the July 12 conference.


Wells Fargo cuts 3,800 jobs; 27 percent of its financial staff

Wells Fargo says it's laying off 3,800 employees over the next year as part of a restructuring of its consumer finance unit. The San Francisco-based bank is consolidating Wells Fargo Financial into its community banking network. The company says 638 independent consumer finance offices will be closed as a result. The layoffs represent about 27 percent of Wells Fargo Financial's 14,000 employees. The company says 2,800 positions will be eliminated in the next two months, and another 1,000 positions will be cut in the next year. The remaining employees at those offices will be reassigned to other Wells Fargo businesses.


'Millionaire' creators awarded $269M in suit against Disney

A federal jury has awarded the creators of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" $269.2 million in damages because they didn't get their fair share of profits from the popular Walt Disney Co. game show. Yesterday's ruling in federal court in California was a victory for London-based Celador International. Celador attorneys blamed Hollywood accounting, arguing that a series of deals between several Disney companies made it appear the show was operating in the red. Disney immediately issued a statement saying it plans to appeal. The show was on the air on ABC from August 1999 to May 2002. It came back in syndication in the fall of 2002 and has been on the air since.


Chinese bank's $22B IPO would be world's biggest

Agricultural Bank of China's $22-billion initial public offering is making headlines as potentially the world's biggest. It is also underlining the cash squeeze Chinese banks are facing after a massive lending binge. Original forecasts had put potential proceeds from the offering at a whopping $30 billion, much more than what the bank, also known as ABC, will actually take in. But the lender had little choice about the timing. China's banks are now strapped for cash, having lent a record 9.6 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) in 2009 to support Beijing's economic stimulus. Regulators have ordered them all to shore up their balance sheets.


Borders eyes multiple platforms for launch of its e-bookstore

Borders Group Inc. has launched its e-bookstore as it tries to catch up to competitors who have a head-start in a small but growing market that's seen as the future of the book industry. The company said yesterday that its goal with the new store and e-reader is to take 17 percent of the electronic book market by next July. Borders strategy rests on selling books that can be used across multiple platforms rather than just one device. The store has more than 1.5 million titles and thousands of free ones. The books are in formats such as mobile, PDF and ePub. The Kobo eReader and Aluratek Libre eReader are both for sale on the site and priced under $150.

From wire reports

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