Business Buzz: GE to Shed Unit and Other Business News

The top business news from this morning.

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GE to Sell Appliance Unit

General Electric is moving to sell its appliance unit—a move that could be worth $7 billion. Though no deals have been made, the conglomerate has had talks with investment banks about soliciting bids for its century-old appliance business, a division whose revenue was $7.2 billion last year. The move is seen as an effort to boost earnings. GE's first-quarter profits were much lower than analysts had expected, and shares in the company have lost more than 15 percent since early April.

U.S. News's Matthew Bandyk writes about GE's first-quarter slump.

Icahn Launches Yahoo Proxy Fight

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is waging a proxy fight at Yahoo to push the Internet company back into sale talks with Microsoft. Icahn has already snapped up some 50 million Yahoo shares at a cost of $1.5 billion and has proposed new directors to challenge Yahoo's management. Yahoo rebuffed Microsoft's $47.5 billion offer to buy the company, and the software giant withdrew its $33-a-share bid. Icahn is known for his unwelcome pushes for change at some of the biggest U.S. companies and engineered last year's deal between the software companies Oracle and BEA Systems.

Rick Newman explains what Yahoo's next five headaches are.

Prius Revs Up to 1 Million

Toyota reported that more than 1 million of its Prius gas-electric hybrids had been sold by the end of April. The world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle was first put on the market in Japan in 1997 and now is available in 40 countries. While Toyota makes other hybrids as well (and has sold 1.46 million, all told), the Prius is by far the most popular. The automaker says motorists who have switched to the Prius have saved 4.5 million tons of global-warming gases from being pumped into the atmosphere. The ecofriendly car switches from gas-powered engine to electric motor at different speeds to optimize energy use.

U.S. News has the scoop on the 2009 Prius.

CBS to Buy CNET

CBS said it was buying CNET Networks for $1.8 billion. Shareholders of the tech-focused provider of online news and information would get $11.50 a share, a 45 percent premium to yesterday's closing price. The deal would make CBS one of the top 10 Internet companies in the United States. CNET has been embroiled in a proxy fight. A New York hedge fund has been trying to get new directors on the company's board, as CNET's growth has slowed. CNET reported a $6.1 million loss in the first quarter.

Beer Giant Copes With Inflation

The third-largest beer brewer in the world, SABMiller, reported a 24 percent increase in profit as it sold more beer at higher prices. Analysts say the maker of Miller Lite and Peroni is coping with sharply higher costs of barley, aluminum, and glass. The price of brewing barley alone rose 40 percent over the year. But SABMiller's sales have jumped 15 percent in the past year to $21.4 billion.


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