Business Briefs – March 27, 2016

Shadowy Hacking Industry May Be Helping FBI Crack an iPhone

NEW YORK (AP) – Turns out there’s a global industry devoted to breaking into smartphones and extracting their information. But you’ve probably never heard of it as they prefer to stay in the shadows.

Now one of those hacking businesses may well be helping the FBI. Late Monday, the FBI abruptly put its legal fight with Apple on hold, announcing that an “outside party” had come forward with a way to unlock the phone of a shooter. If it works, it could render Apple’s forced cooperation unnecessary.

The announcement has thrown a spotlight on a group of digital forensics companies and consultants that make a living cracking security protections on phones and computers.

Samsung to Give Up Authoritarian Ways, Emulate Startups

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of phones, memory chips and other electronics, plans to revamp its authoritarian, top-down corporate culture to become more like a lean startup as it copes with sluggish demand and growing competition.

The company said Thursday its staff pledged to reduce hierarchical practices, unnecessary meetings and excessive working hours in a “Startup Samsung” ceremony held at its headquarters in South Korea.

VW, Porsche Recalling 800,000 SUVs Over Possible Pedal Issue

BERLIN (AP) – Volkswagen and its Porsche unit say they’re recalling a total of about 800,000 Touareg and Cayenne SUVs worldwide because of a potential problem with the pedal system.

Volkswagen said Thursday that it is recalling 391,000 Touaregs worldwide because of a problem that was detected in internal checks with “possible loosening of a retaining ring on the bearing block of the pedal system.” The vehicles concerned are 2011-2016 models.

Porsche said the recall also affects just over 409,000 of its Cayenne SUVs, made in the same years.

Volkswagen said it will contact owners of the cars and aims to examine the vehicles as quickly as possible.

Investment Firm Hurt by Valeant Stake Says CEO Is Retiring

NEW YORK (AP) – The CEO of a firm with the largest stake in troubled Valeant Pharmaceuticals is retiring after punishing losses due to that investment.

Ruane, Cunniff & Goldfarb holds a 10.4 percent stake in the drug company. That has translated into significant financial losses for the firm, where Robert Goldfarb, a disciple of Warren Buffett, has served as chief executive. Its flagship Sequoia Fundhas tumbled 28 percent in the last year as Valeant stumbled.

Valeant is besieged by federal probes into its practice of buying companies that own older drugs, than jacking up the prices. Valeant also faces Securities and Exchange Commission investigations.

Exelon Closes Deal to Buy Pepco, Creating Largest U.S. Utility

NEW YORK (AP) – Exelon has completed its nearly $7 billion deal to buy Pepco, creating America’s largest electric utility company.

The deal closed late Wednesday after the company received approval from its final regulator, almost two years after Exelon first made its offer for Pepco.

The combined company becomes the largest electric utility company in the U.S., based on number of customers, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Exelon now has about 10 million customers, the company said.

Dollar General to Add Nearly 2,000 Stores by Fiscal 2017

NEW YORK (AP) – Dollar General Corp. is aggressively expanding its footprint with plans to add about 2,000 stores over the next two years, bringing its total to more than 14,000 stores.

Dollar General plans to open 900 new stores and relocate or remodel 875 stores in the current year. For next year, it forecasts opening 1,000 new stores and plans relocations or remodels of 900 stores.

It also projects annual net sales to increase 7 percent to 10 percent.

During the Great Recession, Dollar General, along with other dollar chains, attracted legions of followers looking to save money.