(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ___
AOL to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft
NEW YORK (AP) _ Faltering Internet icon AOL was able to squeeze out more than $1 billion from Microsoft for a trove of some 800 patents in an auction, the latest sign of just how valuable such portfolios can be for the world's biggest technology companies.
Microsoft refused to say what the patents cover. Benchmark analyst Clayton Moran said they revolve around Internet technology, including advertising, search and mapping. This would help the software maker go up against search giant Google Inc., which bests Microsoft in all three areas.
Patents have become a hot commodity in the high-tech industry in recent years. They're useful for both attack _ suing competitors _ and defense _ warding off lawsuits with threats of countersuits.
Facebook buying photo-share app Instagram for $1B
NEW YORK (AP) _ Facebook is spending $1 billion to buy photo-sharing company Instagram in the social network's largest acquisition ever.
Instagram lets people apply filters to photos they snap with their mobile devices and share them with friends and strangers. Some of the filters make the photos look as if they've been taken in the 1970s or on Polaroid cameras.
Facebook said it plans to keep Instagram running independently. That's a departure from its tendency to buy small startups and integrate their technology _ or shut them down altogether just so it can hire talented engineers and developers.
Avon hoping for a makeover with new CEO
NEW YORK (AP) _ Avon is hoping a new CEO can give it a much-needed makeover.
The struggling cosmetics seller on Monday tapped long-time Johnson & Johnson executive Sherilyn S. McCoy to be its new chief executive. The announcement ended a four-month search to replace embattled CEO Andrea Jung, who had come under fire for failing to stem the company's decline and wrap up a bribery investigation.
Avon Products Inc. said Jung _ the first female CEO of the 126-year-old company _ will remain executive chairman after McCoy takes over later this month.
Key to Netflix's future: better recommendations
LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) _ Netflix executives John Ciancutti and Todd Yellin are trying to create a video-recommendation system that knows you better than an old friend. It's a critical mission as Netflix faces pressure from its Internet video rivals and subscribers still smarting from recent price hikes.
A big part of Netflix's future rides on how much Ciancutti, Yellin and about 150 engineers can improve the software that draws up lists of TV shows and movies that might appeal to each of the video-subscription service's 26 million customers.
Netflix has spent 13 years learning viewers' disparate tastes so it can point out movies they might enjoy. It has become good enough that it can figure out which romantic comedies might appeal to subscribers who usually favor action flicks.
AT&T to sell most of Yellow Pages to Cerberus
NEW YORK (AP) _ AT&T Inc. on Monday said it agreed to sell a majority stake in its Yellow Pages business to the private-equity firm Cerberus Capital for $950 million.
The sale is part of AT&T's strategy to jettison shrinking parts of its business so it can focus on segments that are growing, particularly its wireless business. Revenue from the Yellow Pages unit has shrunk 30 percent in two years, as consumers continue to shun phone books in favor of the Web.
Phone books were once a cash cow, generating reliable profits as businesses paid for ads that were right under consumer's finger tips when they looked for local stores and services. Even with the steep revenue decline, AT&T's Yellow Pages unit has been profitable, excluding impairment charges, for the last three years.
Icahn sues Amylin in effort to shake up board
NEW YORK (AP) _ Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is suing Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc., saying he and other shareholders should get more time to nominate candidates to the diabetes drugmaker's board of directors.
Icahn said Monday that Amylin is "at a crossroads" and stockholders deserve a chance to nominate new directors. The activist investor said he wants to nominate directors who will listen to offers for the company, and he accused the current board of diluting the value of Amylin shares. He filed a lawsuit against the San Diego company in Delaware court.
Amylin, which sells the diabetes drugs Bydureon and Byetta, said the lawsuit is "without merit." It said the company is aware of its fiduciary responsibilities and is committed to acting in the best interest of all its shareholders and to creating value for shareholders.
China inflation edges up as Beijing shifts focus
BEIJING (AP) _ China's inflation edged up in March as the government shifted focus from containing politically dangerous price rises to stimulating its slowing economy.
Consumer prices rose 3.6 percent over a year earlier, up from February's 3.2 percent, data showed Monday. That was driven by a 7.5 percent rise in politically sensitive food costs, up from the previous month's 6.2 percent.
Beijing shifted focus from cooling prices to shoring up economic growth after inflation eased from a high of 6.5 percent in July. Beijing has promised to ease lending curbs to help companies that have been battered by a slump in global demand.
`Lion King' is Broadway's all-time box office king
NEW YORK (AP) _ Very quietly, almost stealthily, a new king has been crowned on Broadway.
Box office figures released Monday show that "The Lion King" last week swiped the title of Broadway's all-time highest grossing away from "The Phantom of the Opera."
The cumulative gross for "The Lion King" is $853,846,062, according to the show. Its chandelier-swinging rival's cumulative total is $853,122,847, according to the musical's publicist. The "Lion King" surged past "Phantom" after netting more than $2 million at the box office for the week ending Sunday, while "Phantom" pulled in about $1.2 million.
Dior names Raf Simons as new artistic director
PARIS (AP) _ Christian Dior has named Belgian designer Raf Simons as its new artistic director, seven months after its icon, John Galliano, was convicted by a Paris court for drunken anti-Semitic ravings.
A fashion rebel of a different sort, Simons _ who began his career as a furniture designer and has had his own successful menswear label _ will present his first show for the renowned Dior fashion house in July, according to Monday's announcement.
Galliano was dismissed by Dior in March 2011, days before its fall-winter runway show, after a video went viral on the Internet showing the bad-boy designer inebriated and insulting a fellow client at a Paris cafe. He was heard slurring "I love Hitler," among other incendiary remarks.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow finished down 130.55 points at 12,929.59, its first close below 13,000 since March 12. The S&P ended the day off 15.88 points at 1,382.20. The Nasdaq composite closed down 33.42 at 3,047.08.
West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark crude, gave up 85 cents to end at $102.46 per barrel. Brent crude, which is used to price oil imported by U.S. refineries, fell by 76 cents to finish at $122.67 per barrel.
In other energy trading, heating oil fell by 2.33 cents to $3.1459 per gallon while gasoline futures fell by 4.38 cents to finish at $3.2967 per gallon. Natural gas added 1.8 cents to end at $2.107 per 1,000 cubic feet.
(c) 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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