Business news briefs
in Europe grows
The euro-area economy contracted the most in almost four years in the fourth quarter as trade and investment declined. Gross domestic product in the 17-nation group fell 0.6 percent from the third quarter. The economy has contracted for three straight quarters, a trend expected to continue in early 2013.
Best Buy ends
flex work plan
Best Buy has opted to end a program introduced in 2005 that allowed employees at its headquarters to work when they wanted and wherever they wanted, as long as the job was done. Now most corporate employees will work the traditional 40-hour week, the company said.
A Federal Reserve survey found the U.S. economy grew in most parts of the country in January and February, helped by stronger auto sales, better hiring and further gains in housing. In Utah and eight other western states, the economy expanded at a modest pace as retail sales rose and manufacturing activity increased.
Former GM exec
on Toyota board
Toyota has tapped a former executive at rival General Motors to join its board, the first time in the Japanese automaker's 76-year history it has appointed a director from outside the company. The appointment of Mark Hogan, effective April 1, underlines efforts at Toyota to become more transparent and nimble in regional markets as it recovers from difficult years, including a massive recall fiasco in the U.S.
Nasdaq to team
Nasdaq said it will partner with private stock exchange SharesPost to develop a new market for unlisted companies. The new venture will offer early investors, founders and employees of private companies a platform to buy and sell company shares. The so-called Nasdaq Private Market will be based in San Francisco and led by SharesPost founder Greg Brogger.
$731 million fine
European Union antitrust officials hit Microsoft Corp. with a $731 million fine for failing to live up to a promise to allow Windows users to easily choose a Web browser other than Internet Explorer. In 2009, Microsoft agreed to include a browser choice screen in Windows, but the commission said the company failed to offer that screen in a Windows 7 service pack update from May 2011 to July 2012.
The Dell committee that negotiated the slumping PC maker's $24.4 billion buyout is standing behind the deal despite the misgivings of major shareholders. In a new statement the four directors who oversaw the discussions provided their most extensive defense of the deal since it was announced a month ago.