Business roundup: Charges over weight products settled

January 7, 2014
Settlement over weight-loss products

Makers of a weight-loss additive called Sensa will return more than $26 million to consumers to settle federal charges that the company used deceptive advertising claiming that consumers could lose weight by simply sprinkling the powder on their food.

Federal Trade Commission officials said Tuesday that Sensa Products used bogus clinical studies and paid endorsements to rack up more than $364 million in sales between 2008 and 2012 by urging customers to “sprinkle, eat and lose weight.”

The government’s settlement with California-based Sensa is part of a crackdown on four companies that sell weight-loss products, including food additives, skin creams and dietary supplements.

The FTC will collect $7.3 million from LeanSpa, a company that promotes acai berry and “colon cleanse” weight-loss supplements through fake news Web sites. Also swept up in Tuesday’s action are skin-cream maker L’Occitane and HCG Diet Direct, which sells unproven hormones for weight loss.

The companies will together return about $34 million to consumers to settle the federal ­charges.

— Associated Press

Ford’s Mulally not leaving for Microsoft

Alan Mulally is staying at Ford. The chief executive, who was rumored to be in the running to be Microsoft’s next leader, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he won’t leave the Dearborn, Mich., automaker before the end of this year.

“I would like to end the Microsoft speculation because I have no other plans to do anything other than serve Ford,” Mulally said in an interview.

When asked if this should end investor concern about his departure, Mulally said, “You don’t have to worry about me leaving.”

He wouldn’t say if he had talked to Microsoft about becoming CEO. But he said the speculation was a distraction for Ford. Mulally said he will stick with the plan to stay at Ford through at least the end of the year.

Over the past few months, there have been numerous reports that Mulally was on the short list of candidates to replace Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive. The software giant announced in August that Ballmer plans to step down.

Microsoft wouldn’t say Tuesday if Mulally’s announcement came as a surprise. “Out of respect for the process and the potential candidates, we don’t comment on individual names,” a Microsoft spokesman said.

— Associated Press


San Francisco announced plans to start regulating employee shuttles for companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple, charging a fee for those that use public bus stops and controlling where they load and unload. The influx of private shuttle buses, which transport thousands of workers to their jobs, has created traffic problems on the city’s narrow streets. The shuttles also have become a symbol of economic inequality for people who believe the influx of high-paid tech workers is driving the area’s housing prices up.

Aereo, a Barry Diller-backed start-up that provides broadcast television channels over the Inter­net for a monthly fee, said it has secured $34 million in additional funding from outside investors. The money will help ­Aereo expand beyond the 10 metropolitan areas it now serves, while battling copyright-
infringement lawsuits filed by broadcasters. The additional funding was announced on the sidelines of the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas.

A former top executive with Swiss bank UBS who was a fugitive for years pleaded not guilty to U.S. fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from a federal tax evasion investigation. Raoul Weil, 54, entered the plea in a Florida courtroom to charges first filed in 2008. Prosecutors say Weil, who left UBS in 2009, conspired as its chief of global wealth management to hide $20 billion in assets from the Internal Revenue ­Service through secret overseas accounts for thousands of wealthy customers. His attorney said Weil will fight the charges.

— From news services

Coming Today

8:30 a.m.: ADP private-payroll employment report for December released.

2 p.m.: Federal Reserve re­leases­ minutes from the December policy-setting FOMC meeting.

Earnings: Monsanto.

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