Business Briefs – January 22, 2018

Bacardi Lines Up Shot of Patron, Buying All of Tequila Maker

NEW YORK (AP) — Bacardi Limited plans to swallow the rest of Patron Spirits in a deal that values the tequila maker at $5.1 billion. Bacardi has held a minority stake in Patron since 2008. The two private companies on Monday didn’t disclose terms of the deal, which is expected to close in the first half of this year. Bacardi is known for its namesake rum, but it also owns several other liquor brands. Patron will join its tequila stable that also includes Cazadores and Corzo.

Puerto Rico Moves to Privatize Troubled Power Company

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor announced Monday that he is moving to privatize the U.S. territory’s public power company after its slow, troubled recovery from Hurricane Maria focused new attention on longstanding accusations of mismanagement and corruption.

Nearly 30 percent of customers on this island of 3 million people remain without power more than four months after Hurricane Maria. Many blame the failings of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA.

Its director was forced out in November after the utility failed to immediately call for help from its mainland counterparts after the storm. Instead PREPA granted a power-restoration contract to a little-known company that the utility was later forced to rescind. Most recently, PREPA was blamed for the failure to distribute badly needed parts found in one of its warehouses even as repairs went undone for lack of supplies.

United Airlines Saves 170,000 Gallons of Fuel by Using Lighter Paper on Inflight Magazine

(Los Angeles Times) – What difference can an ounce make on an airplane?

If you are United Airlines, with 4,500 flights a day, an ounce can add up. The Chicago-based carrier said it recently began printing its inflight magazine, Hemisphere, on lighter paper, cutting 1 ounce from each magazine. It now weighs 6.85 ounces.

In an internal message to employees, United said it has also switched to lighter paper on its seatback service guides.

The carrier operates 744 mainline planes that vary in size, carrying 50 to 366 passengers each. For a typical 737 plane carrying 179 passengers, the reduction would mean about 11 pounds per flight.

The airline said that slight weight reduction is saving 170,000 gallons of fuel a year, or $290,000 in annual fuel costs.

Last year, United stopped on-board sales of duty-free items, such as perfumes, chocolates and liquor, cutting 1.4 million gallons of fuel a year at a cost savings of $2.3 million.

Credit Card Defaults on the Rise As Shopping Bills Come Due

(Chicago Tribune) – Americans are defaulting on their credit cards at the highest rate in nearly a year.

Experts blame the improving economy: Consumers are feeling more confident in their overall financial situations and they’re loosening their purse strings because of it. That confidence led to higher retail sales through the shopping season, but the credit card bills are coming due, and people are leaving them unpaid at an alarming rate, according to S&P and Experian. Another factor in the uptick in default rates is the increased willingness of financial institutions to extend credit to those who may struggle to pay it back.