BUSINESS NEWS SECTION

North American Auto Show celebrates 30th anniversary with final winter-time event at Cobo Hall

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DETROIT (CCN) — The North American Auto Show opens to the public on Friday. The 30th annual event runs at Cobo Hall in Downtown Detroit until Jan. 27. The doors open daily at 8 am for the final winter-time event. Organizers have announced that they're changing to summer for future shows every June and plans will include expanding exhibits outside the doors of Cobo Hall.  More than 200 brands were on display at last year's event — ranging from automakers, to suppliers, to tech startups as well as to universities and government organizations. No other event in North America provides an international platform for this vast array of companies, organizations and thought leaders under one roof. 

New Attorney General announces multi-million dollar settlements with Fiat Chrysler, Robert Bosch

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LANSING  (CCN) —  New Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday that multi-million dollar settlements have been reached with Italian automaker Fiat Chrysler and supplier Robert Bosch. The settlements will provide compensation for Michigan consumers who purchased or leased Fiat Chrysler vehicles allegedly containing illegal defeat devices and more than $5 million to the State of Michigan.  Payments of more than $171 million from Fiat Chrysler and supplier Robert Bosch will be made to consumers in 52 jurisdictions nationwide for the software devices that changed the way a vehicle performed on emission control lab tests.  Bosch allegedly supplied and helped program the illegal emissions “defeat device” software used by both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen in their diesel vehicles. 

Ford to end production at two plants in Europe as part of ongoing global restructuring moves

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DEARBORN (CCN) — Ford Motor Company announced Thursday that production will end at two plants in France and Germany while possibly ending a joint venture in Russia. The moves are directed at trying to turn around unprofitable operations in Europe as part of CEO Jim Hackett's ongoing global restructuring of the Dearborn-based automaker. The move follows the decision by General Motors CEO Mary Barra to sell off her company's European business in 2017. Ford has lost hundreds of millions in Europe in recent years and had lost $119 million there during 2018 after its third quarter financial report. "We have a good core to our business, but we need to get to sustainability," said Steven Armstrong, who is Ford's group vice president and president of its operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "We need to reset the business today and redesign the business for the future," Armstrong added.  

Federal grand jury in Detroit indicts 4 managers at VW's luxury Audi group

DETROIT (CCN) — A federal grand jury in Detroit indicted four managers at Volkswagen’s luxury Audi group on Thursday. The criminal action was announced in a news release from  David Ashenfelter who is Public  Information Officer for the Eastern District of US District Court. The indictments are part of the U.S. government’s investigation into the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to court documents filed in the case. None of the latest four are in custody and are believed to be in Germany, according to multiple media reports. A total of 13 have now been indicted in the scandal after VW officials admitted in the fall of 2015 that software had been secretly installed in nearly 500,000 U.S. vehicles to cheat government exhaust emissions tests. Nine have already pleaded guilty to felony charges related to the scandal. Court records indicate the managers indicted on Thursday include Richard Bauder who was head of Audi's Diesel Engine Development Division. The others are Carsten Nagal, Axel Eiser and Stefan Knirsch. 

Netflix attracts 8.8 million new subscribers with Bird Box movie

LOS GATOS, CALIFORNIA (CCN) — Wall Street analysts predicted $4.21 billion in fourth quarter 2018 revenue for California-based Netflix because of its big boost from hit movie Bird Box but the streaming service came in slightly below the forecast. The hit movie helped Netflix attract 8.8 million new subscribers for $4.19 billion in final quarter sales. Earnings for the company were at 30 cents per share for the year's final quarter. Netflix announced earlier in the week that it was boosting monthly subscription prices to between $1 and $2 to help fund global expansion and to develop more original programming.  “Bird Box” became a cultural sensation after its Dec. 21 release on Netflix with the company reporting that about 80 million homes have tuned in to see the hit movie starring Sandra Bullock.

Sears chairman wins bankruptcy auction to buy retail giant

HOFFMAN ESTATES (CCN) — The chairman of Sears Holdings Corp bought the retail giant out of bankruptcy on Thursday. Chairman Eddie Lampert won the auction with a $5.2 billion offer that is being opposed by creditors, according to multiple media reports. Lampert’s hedge fund (ESL Investments Inc.) improved its bid of a month ago by $200,000 to win the court-supervised bidding at the auction. Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors and Thursday's auction sale must be approved on Feb. 1 by a federal judge in charge of the proceedings. Lampert says the deal would save 40,000 jobs and keep 400 stores open.  His hedge fund would gain control of almost all of the stock in the retail giant that filed for bankruptcy under his leadership.

Eastland Center mall in Harper Woods sold by Maryland operator for $3.125 during online auction

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 HARPER WOODS (CCN) —  The Eastland Center mall was sold for $3.125 million during an online auction Thursday.  The identity of the winning bidder was not disclosed, pending delivery of the payment. All of the complex was sold except for the former Macy's and Target stores. A Maryland company known as CWCapital held the auction after serving as the mall's "special servicer" since 2016 when New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition was foreclosed on by a bank after falling behind on mortgage payments. Sears and Burlington had joined Macy's and Target in closing stores at the Harper Woods mall in recent years.  The facility was built in 1957 but the downward spiral in the past decade has left  Shoppers World and K&G Fashion Superstore as the only remaining major tenants. The other stores are lower-end national retailers or local independnet small business operators. 

Former MMA fighter from Dexter pleads guilty in $112 million federal health care fraud case

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DETROIT (CCN) — A guilty plea was entered Thursday in Detroit's U.S. District Court by a former mixed martial arts fighter as part of what the government has contended was a $112 million health care fraud case. Josh Burns, 40, is the Dexter man who admitted paying bribes and funneling kickbacks to Dr. Fancisco Patino of Woodhaven. Dr. Patino was indicted in June with Detroit businessman Mashiyat Rashid who is expected to plead guilty in federal court on Monday, according to the Detroit Free Press. Dr. Patino is being held without bond in a Milan prison while awaiting trial in March.

Award-winning chef bringing his restaurant chain to Birmingham's historic Ford-Peabody mansion

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 BIRMINGHAM (CCN) — A Boston-based restaurateur is expanding his chain to Birmingham. Michael Schlow, who has 11 restaurants in the Boston and Washington D.C. areas, is launching a modern Japanese restaurant at Birmingham's historic Ford-Peabody mansion with partners Clint Mansour and Kenny Koza. Mansour is a real estate developer and Koza is a hotel owner. Day-to-day kitchen operations will be led by Jamaican-born chef Lloyd Roberts.  Schlow won the Food & Wine Best New Chef award in 1996 and won the Best Chef: Northeast James Beard Award in 2000. He has appeared on TV shows known as Top Chef Masters, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Rachel Ray Show. 

Dunkin Donuts now just 'Dunkin' after official name change revealed in rebranding move

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 CANTON, MASSACHUSETTS  (CCN) —  Dunkin’ Donuts will become just "Dunkin" after a name change in January. The announcement was made from the company's corporate headquarters via a conference call with media members on Tuesday. Dropping "donuts" from its name won't mean donuts will be dropped from the menu, but rebranding as Dunkin’ will better reflect the chain's increasing emphasis on coffee and other drinks, which make up 60 percent of its sales.

The 68-year-old chain has toyed with the idea since 2006 when launching its new motto of “America runs on Dunkin."

Governor unhappy with continued union work stoppage across state on road repair projects

 LANSING (CCN) — Michigan Governor Rick Snyder met with media members Tuesday in Lansing to suggest he is considering using the National Guard's engineering units to fix important road sections before winter. Snyder met with both sides in a union dispute that has led to work stoppages on road repair projects across the state. Threats were also made Monday about possibly calling on non-union construction workers if a deal can't be reached soon.  “Our public is not going to be happy about this,” Snyder said at Tuesday's press conference. “I’m not happy about this," he added. "This is not a good situation.”  The governor said his staff is checking to see if federal law prohibits the state from intervening to settle the dispute.  

Pizza spitting video leads to felony charge against Comerica Park concession stand employee

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DETROIT (CCN) — The Comerica Park concession stand employee who went viral spitting on pizza has been arrested. The 20-year-old man (Jaylon Kelly) was arranged Tuesday morning in a Detroit court room after being charged by the Wayne County  Prosecutor's Office with a 90-day misdemeanor and a four-year felony related to food law violations.

Social media posts of a video captured by Kelly's former co-worker was viewed thousands of times on the internet. The individual who posted the video said he was fired for "taking too many bathroom breaks" during his shift and he wanted to expose Kelly. READ MORE