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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
N.Y. firm sued for not exposing Madoff


Associated Press

NEW YORK In the late 1990s, executives at the financial advisory firm Ivy Asset Management decided something about Bernard Madoff didn't add up, and began urging clients to back away from the man later revealed to be Wall Street's greatest fraudster.

Those warnings weren't loud enough, New York's attorney general now says.

The state sued Ivy and two of its former executives Tuesday, claiming they had "disturbing" evidence years ago that Madoff was lying about his investment methods, but played down those suspicions because they feared losing millions of dollars in management fees.

BROWSER-COMPATIBLE WORD BEING OFFERED

SEATTLE Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new edition of its Office programs to businesses today.

And for the first time it's offering versions of Word and other programs that work in a Web browser, for free.

Office 2010 marks a milestone in Microsoft's efforts to keep up with an industry shift from programs that run on PCs to free, Web-based ones that can be accessed from any computer. And yet Microsoft must be careful not to undermine its lucrative desktop software business, which accounted for 29 percent of Microsoft's revenue and 51 percent of its operating income in the most recent quarter.

Consumers can start buying Office 2010 or using the free applications on the Web in June.

DISNEY EARNINGS INCREASE 55 PERCENT

NEW YORK The Walt Disney Co. said yesterday that its earnings in the latest quarter jumped 55 percent on strong box office returns for "Alice in Wonderland."

Disney's earnings offer a partial reading on consumer sentiment. Its amusement parks and movie releases depend on people feeling confident enough to spend their extra cash.

A year ago moviegoers coping with a severe recession largely avoided Disney's "Confessions of a Shopaholic." In the most recent quarter, movie studio profits surged.

ACQUISITION GOING WELL, DRUG FIRM SAYS

Drugmaker Merck & Co.'s integration of Schering-Plough Corp. is progressing well, with their operations already combined in 16 of its top 20 markets, sales rising in emerging markets and new medicines poised for approval, company executives said yesterday.

Merck said that since the $41 billion Nov. 3 acquisition, it's been building sales of key products, launching new ones for depression, asthma, fertility problems and other conditions, and retooling its marketing to focus more on doctor and patient needs. However, the company's first effort at producing a biologic drug has flopped.

The New Jersey company gave its first business briefing since the deal that made it the world's second-largest pharmaceutical company.

INFLATION IN CHINA ACCELERATED IN APRIL

BEIJING China's inflation accelerated in April, triggering a sell-off in Chinese stocks yesterday on fears of overheating and a possible credit clampdown by Beijing that might slow the country's economic recovery.

April consumer prices rose 2.8 percent from a year earlier, below Beijing's full-year target of 3 percent but up 0.4 percentage points from March, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Foreign companies and investors are watching Chinese inflation because any moves to cool prices might slow stimulus-fueled economic growth that surged to 11.9 percent in the first quarter.

That could hurt the global recovery if it weakens demand for foreign iron ore and other imports.