Amsterdam Financial Services Correspondent
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Jun 13, 2013

Gannett to expand in TV with $1.5 billion Belo purchase

By Sinead Carew and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Gannett Co Inc, the largest U.S. newspaper chain, said it will pay $1.5 billion for television company Belo Corp, adding a stable of faster-growing TV assets that will offset the company’s newspaper businesses.

The deal would nearly double Gannett’s broadcasting holdings, making it the fourth-largest U.S. owner of major network affiliates, reaching nearly one-third of U.S. households, the company said on Thursday.

Jun 10, 2013

NSA leak prompts questions over U.S. reliance on contractors

WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government may have to reconsider how much it relies on outside defense contractors who are given top security clearances after an NSA contractor exposed top-secret phone and internet surveillance programs.

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old systems technician at Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, admitted on Sunday that he divulged details of the National Security Agency’s programs to The Guardian and Washington Post.

May 31, 2013

Sale of AIG plane lease unit to Chinese group at risk

By Jessica Toonkel and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – A Chinese group’s purchase of ILFC, one of the world’s largest airplane leasing businesses, could collapse after insurer American International Group Inc (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Friday it did not receive a scheduled deposit payment.

Under terms of the purchase agreement, the missed payment gives AIG (AIG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) the right to cancel the sale, though such a decision was not expected to be imminent. AIG declined to comment, while a spokesman for the consortium was not immediately available to comment.

May 28, 2013

NY regulator asks insurers about readiness for cyber threats

By Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – New York’s top financial regulator has asked some of the largest U.S. insurance companies to disclose details on their preparedness for cyber attacks, following a similar request to major banks earlier this year.

The New York State Department of Financial Services said it sent letters on Tuesday asking insurers whether they have faced any cyber attacks in the last three years, what safeguards they have put in place and how much money they have set aside for dealing with cyber issues.

May 21, 2013

Moore shows that as cities grow, tornado damage grows with them

May 21 (Reuters) – Moore, Oklahoma, has had the bad luck of
being hit by two highly destructive tornadoes, both in the month
of May, 14 years apart.

But the Moore that got struck on Monday is not the same as
in 1999. Like a lot of towns across America and in the so-called
“Tornado Alley,” rapid growth has made it a bigger target,
vulnerable to more damage.

May 9, 2013

Barnes & Noble shares soar on Microsoft report

By Phil Wahba and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Shares in Barnes & Noble Inc rose 18 percent on Thursday after a report that Microsoft Corp is considering an offer to acquire the tablet and e-book business of B&N’s Nook Media unit.

The technology website TechCrunch reported that Microsoft, which already owns a 17 percent stake in Nook Media, was proposing a $1 billion offer to buy all of Nook’s digital assets. A source familiar with the document cited by TechCrunch confirmed its authenticity.

Apr 29, 2013

Sprint seeks details from Dish on takeover proposal

By Liana B. Baker and Ben Berkowitz

(Reuters) – Sprint Nextel Corp on Monday said its merger partner, SoftBank Corp, has waived some terms of their agreement so that Sprint can seek more information from rival suitor Dish Network Corp.

The exchange of information between Sprint and Dish indicates the companies are in conversations about the satellite broadcaster’s $25.5 billion takeover bid, even if Sprint for now is standing by its $20.1 billion pact with SoftBank.

Apr 28, 2013

Earnings beating forecasts but jury’s out on rest of season

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. companies have easily beaten expectations for first-quarter earnings so far in the reporting season, but nearly half of the members of the S&P 500 are yet to announce results and they are unlikely to be as robust.

With results in from 271 of the S&P 500 companies, year-over-year earnings growth is projected at 3.9 percent, compared with a forecast for 1.5 percent growth at the start of the earnings season, Thomson Reuters data shows. That figure includes those that have reported and analyst estimates for those who have not.

Apr 28, 2013

U.S. earnings beating forecasts but jury’s out on rest of season

NEW YORK, April 28 (Reuters) – U.S. companies have easily
beaten expectations for first-quarter earnings so far in the
reporting season, but nearly half of the members of the S&P 500
are yet to announce results and they are unlikely to be as
robust.

With results in from 271 of the S&P 500 companies,
year-over-year earnings growth is projected at 3.9 percent,
compared with a forecast for 1.5 percent growth at the start of
the earnings season, Thomson Reuters data shows. That figure
includes those that have reported and analyst estimates for
those who have not.

Apr 27, 2013

Growth concerns dog Amazon as it shores up digital beachhead

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc’s stock sank 6 percent on Friday as a poor financial outlook revived concerns about whether the company can sustain its torrid pace of expansion while profitability improves.

The world’s largest Internet retailer on Thursday reported its highest gross profit margins in a decade as years of spending on high-margin businesses, from digital media to cloud services, began to pay off. But slower revenue growth and a disappointing outlook for this quarter exacerbated uncertainty about the its business beyond the United States.

    • About Ben

      "Ben Berkowitz covers the insurance industry in New York City. He rejoined Reuters in Amsterdam in May 2009, covering the Dutch banking system and economy. He originally worked for Reuters in Los Angeles and New York from 2001 to 2006 covering everything from video games to oil. In between he was business editor at AOL, head of the editing desk at AP Business News and managing editor of Fidelity.com."
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