Business Briefs – March 14, 2016

Big Easy Airbnbs Mushroom, Sparking Debate

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Tourists in New Orleans used to mostly stay in the French Quarter, but that’s changing, due to more short-term rentals through websites.

Now tourists are found in neighborhoods and locals are divided.

Some say the rentals help residents bolster income but others say the spread of tourism to residential areas hurts the quality of life.

Complaints against the rentals have doubled. Businesses and neighborhood groups have joined to press for restrictions. And the state is looking to tax them like motels.

First-Ever Dissolving Heart Stent Gets FDA Review

WASHINGTON (AP) – A disappearing medical implant will get a closer look from the Food and Drug Administration this week.

The FDA meets on Tuesday to review Abbott Laboratories’ first-of-a-kind heart stent that dissolves into the body after helping to clear fat-clogged arteries.

Abbott has asked the agency to approve its Absorb stent as an alternative to permanent, metal implants that have long been used to treat narrowing arteries that can lead to heart attack and death. But regulators have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the experimental device.

Fresh Market to Be Bought by Apollo for More Than $1.3B

NEW YORK (AP) – The Fresh Market, a grocery store chain, has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Apollo for more than $1.3 billion.

The deal, expected to close in the second quarter, comes after Fresh Market said in October that it was seeking to possibly sell itself.

Apollo said Monday that it is paying $28.50 for each share of Fresh Market, a 24 percent premium of the stock’s closing price of $22.98 on Friday.

Toyota Partners in Making Wind-Power Hydrogen for Fuel Cells

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) – Toyota Motor Corp. is responding to the main criticism of fuel cell cars — that making the hydrogen for the fuel is not clean — with plans to help make the hydrogen using wind power.

Fuel cells are zero-emission, running on the power created when hydrogen combines with oxygen in the air to make water. But to have a totally clean supply chain, the hydrogen must also be cleanly made. Right now, most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels.

In a project announced Monday, hydrogen from the wind-power plant will be compressed and used to power forklifts at four sites.

Ex-Worker Says VW Destroyed Documents, Obstructed Justice

DETROIT (AP) – Volkswagen deleted documents and obstructed justice after the U.S. Environmental Protection accused the company of cheating on emissions tests, a former employee alleged in a lawsuit.

Daniel Donovan says in a whistleblower case that he was wrongfully fired Dec. 6, 2015 after refusing to participate in the deletions and reporting them to a supervisor. The lawsuit says that the evidence deletion continued for three days after the Sept. 18 allegations from the EPA and despite a hold order from the Justice Department.

VW said Monday that Donovan’s departure from the company was not related to the diesel emissions issue and that his claim of wrongful termination is without merit.

Eurozone Industrial Output Rises At Fastest Tick Since 2009

LONDON (AP) – Industrial output in the 19-country eurozone grew at its fastest tick in more than six years in January, official figures showed Monday — a welcome development but one many economists think could easily be reversed in coming months in light of the slowdown in the global economy.

The European Union’s statistical agency said industrial output, which includes everything from energy extraction to the production of aircraft, rose by 2.1 percent in January. The increase was more than anticipated — the consensus in the markets was for a more modest 1.6 percent gain.

Police: McClendon Hit Support At 78 Mph, Didn’t Try to Turn

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon had the gas pedal floored in his SUV until just before it slammed into a bridge support at 78 mph, and it doesn’t seem he tried to avoid the deadly crash, authorities said Monday.

McClendon tapped his brakes before impact, but not enough to slow his vehicle significantly, police Chief Bill Citty said at a news conference. There was no evidence that McClendon tried to veer away before impact.

McClendon died March 2, a day after a federal grand jury indicted him on a bid-rigging charge.