c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

VERIZON, BETTING ON WIRELESS, SEEKS FULL CONTROL OF UNIT

With a majority of Americans using Verizon Wireless for their cellphone service, it may not seem obvious that almost half of Verizon is owned by a company overseas. That could soon change. Vodafone, the British telecommunications giant, has confirmed that it is in talks to sell to Verizon Communications its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, a deal that analysts say could be worth at least $125 billion. For Verizon, this has been a long-sought deal, one that would rank among the biggest purchases in history.

2ND-QUARTER GROWTH REVISED SHARPLY HIGHER

The nation’s economic output grew at a much faster rate in the second quarter than originally estimated, buoyed by an increase in exports. Gross domestic product grew in the second quarter at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent in April through June; the government initially estimated 1.7 percent. The growth rate is still far lower than what the country needs to recover the ground lost during the recent recession anytime soon. Even so, the upward revision was welcome news, particularly alongside another report Thursday showing that jobless claims were falling.

SWITZERLAND AND U.S. REACH ACCORD TO CURTAIL BANKING SECRECY

Switzerland and the United States reached a watershed deal Thursday to punish Swiss banks that helped wealthy Americans stash money in hidden offshore accounts, closing the door on an era of bank secrecy and tax evasion. The formal agreement, which was announced Thursday by the Justice Department in Washington and will be presented by Swiss authorities Friday, outlined formulas for Swiss banks to pay up to billions of dollars in fines. Significantly, the deal does not cover 14 Swiss banks and Swiss branches of international banks that are under criminal investigation by U.S. authorities.

FIRM’S HIRING OF EX-ARMY REQUISITIONS CHIEF IS UNDER SCRUTINY

Government lawyers have asked the private equity firm headed by prominent financier Lynn Tilton for information related to its recent hiring of a former Army official, according to people briefed on the matter. The official, Col. Norbert E. Vergez, headed a unit that awarded lucrative business to a helicopter company owned by Tilton’s firm, Patriarch Partners LLC. The inquiry is expected to examine Vergez’s government activities, his dealings with Patriarch and how he came to be hired by the firm in February, according to an anonymous official.

IN NEW WAVE OF WALKOUTS, FAST-FOOD STRIKERS GAIN MOMENTUM

Fast-food workers went on strike in more than 50 cities on Thursday, with the wave of one-day walkouts extending to the South and the West for the first time, spreading to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Memphis, Tenn., and Raleigh, N.C. The strike’s organizers estimated that some employees walked out at nearly 1,000 restaurants, part of the first-ever wave of strikes by American fast-food workers. The workers, many of whom earn the $7.25-an-hour federal minimum wage, are demanding a raise to $15 an hour.

BLACKSTONE SETTLES LAWSUIT ALLEGING IT MISLED IPO INVESTORS

The Blackstone Group has agreed to pay $85 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a group of investors that accused it of misrepresenting some investments ahead of its 2007 initial public offering. The settlement closes the door on a five-year legal battle with investors who contended that the firm misrepresented the value of three investments in its prospectus. Blackstone denied any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement, and will avoid a securities class-action trial that was scheduled to begin next month. Shares of Blackstone rose 1.9 percent Thursday.

NASDAQ BLAMES A SURGE OF DATA FOR TRADING HALT

The Nasdaq OMX Group on Thursday attributed last week’s three-hour trading halt a surge of data that overwhelmed its server, in the stock market operator’s most detailed accounting yet of the market outage. In a statement, the company highlighted more than 20 attempts by Arca, one of the exchanges run by NYSE Euronext, to connect and then disconnect to the system. Those were accompanied by what Nasdaq described as a stream of quotes for inaccurate symbols from Arca. The two incidents together inundated Nasdaq’s system with more than twice the data that it was designed to handle.

E-CIGARETTE MAKERS’ ADS ECHO TOBACCO’S HEYDAY

Electronic cigarettes may be a creation of the early 21st century, but critics of the devices say manufacturers are increasingly borrowing marketing tactics that are reminiscent of the mid-1900s. With U.S. smokers buying e-cigarettes at a record pace — annual sales are expected to reach $1.7 billion by year’s end — e-cigarette makers are spending growing sums on TV commercials with celebrities, catchy slogans and sports sponsorships. Those tactics can no longer be used to sell tobacco, but are readily available to the e-cigarette industry because it is not covered by the laws or regulations that affect the tobacco industry.

AFTER A SUICIDE, CHAIRMAN OF ZURICH INSURANCE QUITS

Josef Ackermann, former chief executive of Deutsche Bank and one of Europe’s best-known business leaders, abruptly resigned as chairman of Zurich Insurance Group on Thursday after acknowledging that he might be accused of sharing blame for the apparent suicide of the company’s chief financial officer. Ackermann said in a statement that he was “deeply shocked” by the death Monday of Pierre Wauthier, the chief financial officer, and that any allegation by the dead man’s family that he shared responsibility was “unfounded.”