Warren E. Buffett’s company has agreed to an $896,000 penalty for failing to tell regulators beforehand about a December 2013 investment in wallboard maker USG.
The Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday that Berkshire Hathaway should have notified the Justice Department before it converted $325 million of senior USG notes it held into 21.4 million shares of the company.
Because Berkshire was a significant USG shareholder, antitrust laws required it to notify regulators because of the size of the deal. At the end of June, Berkshire held just over 39 million USG shares.
Berkshire corrected its initial filing after the USG investment and clarified that it should have notified officials. But regulators said Berkshire made a similar mistake six months earlier when it acquired securities in Symetra Financial.
“Although we may not seek penalties for every inadvertent error, we will enforce the rules when the same party makes additional mistakes after promises of improved oversight,” said Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.
In a statement, Buffett described the matter as a simple mistake.
— Associated Press
Hewlett-Packard posted a surprise increase in quarterly revenue after sales from its personal computer division climbed 12 percent, but a flat-to-declining performance from its other units underscored the company’s uphill battle to revive growth.
HP sales rose to $27.6 billion in its fiscal third quarter from $27.2 billion a year earlier. Wall Street analysts, on average, had forecast a modest drop in revenue to $27.01 billion.
The Silicon Valley, Calif.-based giant is undergoing a major overhaul aimed at cutting costs and reorienting itself toward higher-margin businesses such as computing infrastructure.
Chief executive Meg Whitman credited PC demand for “coming back some” as consumers and corporations upgrade aging machines. She also was pleased with a 2 percent growth in revenue, to $6.9 billion, at the Enterprise Group, the company’s second-largest business that deals in networking, storage and servers for corporate clients.
“It’s a turnaround in a declining business,” Whitman said in an interview.
● United Parcel Service said a breach of computer systems at UPS Store retail outlets may have exposed customers’ personal and payment data at some locations this year. Malware was found at 51 locations in 24 states, or about 1 percent of the 4,470 franchise stores across the United States, UPS said. About 105,000 transactions were affected, although the company cannot yet say how many customers, said Chelsea Lee, a UPS Store spokeswoman. At risk are UPS Store customers who used a credit or debit card at one of the affected locations from Jan. 20 through Aug. 11, UPS said.
● Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken an 8.5 percent stake in Hertz, saying he plans to have talks with the car-rental company and may seek representation on its board. Icahn disclosed that he had paid about $470.5 million for 38.8 million Hertz shares, including underlying call options. That would make him the company’s biggest shareholder, according to FactSet data. Hertz did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
● The cleanup of a 5,000-gallon fuel oil spill from a Duke Energy power plant into the Ohio River could stretch into Thursday, Duke said, as the U.S. Coast Guard reopened a 15-mile section of the river to limited traffic. The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the river between Cincinnati and Dayton, Ky., after late Monday’s spill. The incident occurred during what Duke called a “routine transfer of fuel oil” at the company’s 60-year-old W.C. Beckjord Station power plant, 20 miles east of Cincinnati. ●
— From news services
● 8:30 a.m.: Weekly jobless claims.
● 10 a.m.: Existing-home sales for July and weekly mortgage rates.
● Earnings: Dollar Tree, Gap, Sears Holdings.