Price-fixing probe targets 3 oil companies; Google CEO discloses voice paralysis

ENERGY

Price-fixing probe targets 3 oil firms

European antitrust authorities have launched investigations into at least three oil companies on suspicion of price-fixing.

Britain’s BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norway’s Statoil confirmed that they are subjects of the inquiry announced Tuesday by the European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission.

Statoil said a raid at its headquarters in Stavanger, Norway, was carried out with the assistance of Norwegian antitrust officials. Norway is not a member of the E.U. BP and Shell offered no details but said they were cooperating with authorities.

Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill Financial that compiles prices for energy markets, said the commission also visited its London operations Tuesday.

The commission said in a statement Tuesday that it had concerns that oil companies “may have colluded in reporting distorted prices.” Such prices are used to determine the market cost of several energy products in Europe and around the world.

“Even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers,” the commission said.

— Associated Press

EXECUTIVES

Google CEO discloses voice paralysis

Google chief executive Larry Page suffers from voice paralysis, he disclosed Tuesday, answering questions about why he appeared to be shying away from public speaking engagements.

Page made the announcement on his Google+ page, saying that he has been able to fulfill his duties “at home and at work” speaking softly but that it’s more “tedious” for him to speak publicly.

Page’s voice condition has been the subject of speculation since last year’s Google I/O developers conference, when the company said he would not speak at the event or on the company’s next earnings call. That raised questions about whether Google should disclose more about its executives’ health conditions, particularly after the criticism that Apple faced while its chief executive, Steve Jobs, was battling pancreatic cancer. Jobs died in 2011.

Page’s disclosure did not concern investors Tuesday; Google shares rose 1.1 percent, to $877.10.

Page said problems with his voice stemmed from a bad cold he caught about 14 years ago that eventually paralyzed his left vocal cord. Page said his vocal problems resurfaced this past summer — ahead of last year’s developers conference — and that his second vocal cord now has limited movement.

In his posted announcement, Page also said he has funded a research program through the Vocal Health Institute. He did not say whether he’ll speak at this year’s Google developers conference, which kicks off Wednesday.

— Hayley Tsukayama

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— From news services

COMING TODAY

l  8:30 a.m.: Producer price index for April released.

l  9:15 a.m.: Industrial production for April released.

l  Earnings: Cisco Systems, Deere, Macy’s.

 
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