Business Briefs – August 20, 2017

11 U.S. States Added Jobs in July

WASHINGTON (AP) – Hiring increased in 11 U.S. states in July, while the unemployment rate tumbled to record lows in two states. The Labor Department says that unemployment rates were relatively stable in most states. They fell in 15 states and rose in 23, but many of the changes were statistically insignificant.

The jobs report for states reflects the steady job gains in a recovery from the Great Recession that has entered its ninth year. The overall unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent last month as employers added 209,000 jobs.

Bankruptcy Fight Over Oncor To Test Warren Buffett’s Discipline

(Reuters) – Warren Buffett takes pride in naming his price to buy a company, and not paying a nickel more. But the largest U.S. natural gas distribution utility, an unyielding hedge fund, and a Delaware bankruptcy judge now present one of the biggest challenges to the billionaire’s legendary discipline.

The board of bankrupt Texas utility Energy Future Holdings is to decide whether to sell its crown jewel, power transmission company Oncor, to Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc or accept an opposing bid from Sempra Energy, a person familiar with the confidential deliberations said on condition of anonymity.

The rival bid for Oncor was disclosed on Friday by Energy Future’s biggest creditor, billionaire Paul Singer’s hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. The identity of the bidder was not publicly announced, but Bloomberg News first reported on Saturday that Sempra was the mystery bidder, citing anonymous sources.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Buffett’s energy unit, has offered $9 billion in cash for Oncor, while the rival bid is for $9.3 billion, a lawyer for Elliott said on Friday.

The gap is pocket change for Berkshire, but Buffett pledged last Wednesday not to raise his offer.

Former Uber CEO Lashes Out At VC Firm Suing Company

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is skewering a lawsuit filed by a former ally, describing it as a malicious attempt to sever his remaining ties to the ride-hailing service that he co-founded. Kalanick lashed out in legal documents filed late Thursday in response to a lawsuit filed against Uber last week by one of its major investors and a former Kalanick supporter, Benchmark Capital.

The Real Revolution in NKorea Is Rise of Consumer Culture

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) – Three generations into the Kim family’s ruling dynasty in North Korea, markets have blossomed and a consumer culture is taking root. The country had little choice but to accept the markets after enduring a devastating famine in the 1990s. But giving up a measure of control over the economy has consequences. So does growing dependent on Chinese imports. The North may be hitting an economic bubble and may face political instability.

The new round of sanctions announced by the U.N. earlier this month will make it harder for the North to export its goods, cap the number of laborers it can send abroad — an important source of foreign currency for the regime — and limit the growth of joint ventures.

Fox’s James Murdoch Slams Trump’s Charlottesville Response

NEW YORK (AP) – The CEO of 21st Century Fox has denounced racism and terrorists and expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. James Murdoch also told friends in a personal email that he and his wife, Kathryn, will donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League. Murdoch is the son of media mogul and Trump ally Rupert Murdoch.