The Buzz On Business

NO DECISION ON TAKEOVER, YAHOO TELLS WORKERS: Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Jerry Yang told employees Wednesday that the struggling Internet pioneer is examining ways to avoid a takeover by rival Microsoft Corp. "Our board is thoughtfully evaluating a wide range of potential strategic alternatives in what is a complex and evolving landscape," Yang wrote in an e-mail. He emphasized no decision had been made on Microsoft's six-day-old bid, initially valued at $44.6 billion, or $31 per share. Yang, who helped conceive Yahoo in 1994, didn't set a timetable for the Sunnyvale-based company's response, writing that the board "is going to take the time it needs to do it right." Most of Wednesday's e-mail, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, tried to cheer up Yahoo's employees, many of whom are likely to lose their jobs in the months ahead, one way or the other. Yahoo already has drawn up plans to trim 1,000 jobs from a 14,300-employee payroll in an effort to boost its sagging profits. The layoffs are expected to be even more severe if Microsoft devours the company because about $1 billion in expenses would be cut in a takeover.

ATM MAKER PARING ITS WORK FORCE: Diebold Inc. said Wednesday that it plans to cut about 5 percent of its global work force because deteriorating credit markets within the U.S. banking industry may mean fewer ATMs are needed. The Cleveland-area company, which makes ATMs, business security systems and voting machines, said it expects cuts in North America, Brazil and Europe. About 800 jobs will be eliminated. "The deteriorating condition of the credit markets within the U.S. bank industry will likely result in reduced capital investment in branch construction," said Thomas W. Swidarski, Diebold's president and chief executive.

NEW CABLE BEING LAID IN MEDITERRANEAN: After Internet disruptions and slowdowns engulfed a large swath of the Middle East and India, a new, more resilient cable is being laid in the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and France, a spokesman for the cable-owner FLAG Telecom said Wednesday. The new line, known as the FLAG Mediterranean Cable, will provide a different route from the severed cables and be "fully resilient" against cuts such as last week's, according to FLAG, which stands for Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe. The company said a second repair ship has reached a spot about 5 miles north of the Egyptian port of Alexandria, where two Internet cables were cut Jan. 30. Repairs on a third cable, between the Emirates and Oman, that was cut Friday also have begun as another FLAG vessel arrived at the site 35 miles north of Dubai in the Persian Gulf. The two unusual incidents slowed businesses and hampered personal Internet usage in the Middle East and India. Governments in the region appeared to operate normally, apparently because they switched to backup satellite systems. The FLAG spokesman said the company still was trying to determine how the cables were cut. He declined to comment on whether the two incidents were somehow linked but said he didn't believe the company was targeted deliberately.

McCLATCHY PROFITS IMPROVE, STOCKS FALL: McClatchy Co. swung to a fourth-quarter profit from a loss a year ago, but the newspaper publisher continued to be buffeted by a severe housing slump in California and Florida. The company said it would take an accounting charge to reflect further declines in its stock price. McClatchy, which is the third-largest U.S. newspaper publisher by circulation, said the advertising outlook for this year wasn't any better, and expects first-quarter advertising to decline in the low double-digit percentage range. McClatchy reported preliminary net income of $30.1 million for the final three months of the year, compared with a loss of $279.3 million in the same period a year earlier. That included losses from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which McClatchy since has sold. The latest figures did not include the expected noncash impairment charge, which McClatchy said it would announce later when it submits its annual regulatory filing.


Figuratively Speaking

$9.1 billion: Estimated corporate research and development spending on clean energy technologies in 2006, according to Worldwatch Institute in State of the World 2008

$52 billion: Total estimated investment in renewable energy in 2006

33: Percentage rise from 2005