Business Briefs – March 20, 2016

Starwood Takes Improved Bid From Anbang

NEW YORK (AP) – Starwood called off a $12.2 billion buyout agreement with Marriott in favor of an offer from a group of investors led by the Chinese insurance company Anbang.

The decision came after Anbang upped its offer for Starwood by nearly $370 million Friday, bringing the total to more than $14 billion. Starwood, which owns the Sheraton and Westin hotel brands, has to pay Marriott $400 million to end the deal.

Chinese companies have parked a lot of money in U.S. assets in recent years, seeing it as a safe bet.

Court Acquits Ex-Porsche Executives Over VW Bid

BERLIN (AP) – A German court acquitted on Friday former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking and his ex-finance chief of charges of market manipulation connected to the sports car maker’s failed attempt to buy Volkswagen.

Prosecutors had accused Wiedeking and his chief financial officer, Holger Haerter, of making misleading statements about the company’s intentions before it moved in 2008 to build up its stake in the much larger Volkswagen AG. The takeover attempt continued until May 2009.

Both men had rejected the charges. Prosecutors had sought prison sentences of 2 ½ years for Wiedeking and 2 years and 3 months for Haerter.

L.L. Bean Reports Flat Sales In Tough Year for Retailers

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) – Outdoors specialty retailer L.L. Bean on Friday reported flat sales in 2015, which was a tough year for the retail industry, officials said Friday.

Revenue hit $1.6 billion for the company’s fiscal year that ended Feb. 28, CEO Steve Smith told workers in a memo. The disappointing news that the company missed its growth goals came after five consecutive years of sales growth. Smith said the company “performed well given a challenging retail environment.”

Warm weather in the critical fourth quarter was particularly tough on apparel retailers, and many of them resorted to steep discounts on winter clothing.

For Virtual Reality Creators, Motion Sickness a Real Issue

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – If the controls and movement in a traditional video game aren’t natural, it’s merely annoying to players. For designers of virtual reality experiences, the same mistake could make users sick.

With the release of a trio of high-definition headsets on the horizon, many VR aficionados in attendance at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco are confronting that issue head on.

The low-latency headsets from Oculus, HTC and Sony are intended to right the nausea-inducing wrongs of their VR predecessors from 20 years ago, but many users still report feeling woozy after using souped-up systems, such as the Oculus Rift.

Bangladesh Bank Heist Shows Weak Spots in Finance Safeguards

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The laundering through the Philippines of $81 million stolen by hackers from a U.S. Federal Reserve account is adding to pressures on the Southeast Asian country to fix loopholes in its financial regime.

It also highlights a potential pitfall in global anti-money laundering efforts, which in the case of the Philippines has focused more on vanquishing terrorist financing than on preventing misuse of the financial system by banks and casinos.

The disclosure of the theft from an account of the Bangladesh central bank at the New York Fed, has given such issues fresh traction.