Telecommunications
Sprint shareholders approve SoftBank bid

Shareholders of Sprint Nextel voted Tuesday in favor of a sweetened takeover offer from SoftBank, ending a contentious battle for the No. 3 U.S. wireless service provider.

Japan’s SoftBank, which fought Dish Network to buy Sprint, just needs approval from the Federal Communications Commission to close the deal.

According to Sprint, about 80 percent of its shares outstanding were voted in favor of the $21.6 billion deal that would give SoftBank 78 percent ownership of the company.

Sprint said in a statement released after a sparsely attended meeting that it was sticking by its previous target for the deal to close in early July.

On June 10, SoftBank increased its bid from $20.1 billion to $21.6 billion and raised the cash component of the deal for shareholders by $4.5 billion, trumping Dish’s bid and gaining support from Sprint’s second-biggest shareholder, Paulson & Co., which had previously said it preferred Dish’s bid.

;

Dish, which made a bid for Sprint on April 15, abandoned its efforts to buy the company after SoftBank raised its bid.

The SoftBank-Sprint deal would be Japan’s biggest takeover of an overseas company.

— Reuters

RETAIL
Clothier gives its side in rift with founder

Men’s Wearhouse on Tuesday escalated a public battle with founder and former pitchman George Zimmer, trying to explain why it fired the man who still represents the clothier in many shoppers’ minds.

The company said in a statement that its board parted ways with Zimmer because he had difficulty “accepting the fact that Men’s Wearhouse is a public company with an independent board of directors and that he has not been the chief executive officer for two years.” One bone of contention was that he wanted to sell the company to an investment firm.

On paper, Zimmer’s ability to take back control of the company he founded seems limited. But to his fans, he’s already winning. Customers are turning to the company’s Facebook page and other social media outlets to express their outrage. Many were threatening to boycott the chain.

Ultimately, the shoppers could determine what happens next. Zimmer, 64, founded the company in 1973 but owns just 3½ percent of the company’s stock. He has been one of advertising’s most recognizable pitchmen, immediately recognizable for his slogan: “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.”

— Associated Press

Also in Business

l  A Florida investment adviser pleaded guilty Tuesday in a $13 million securities fraud scheme that prosecutors say capitalized on enthusiasm for Facebook shares. Craig L. Berkman entered the plea to securities and wire fraud in federal court in Manhattan. Berkman, 71, a one-time Oregon GOP gubernatorial candidate, admitted that he falsely claimed to investors in December 2010 that he owned shares of Facebook. Prosecutors said Berkman pocketed much of the $13.2 million he received from more than 120 investors.

l  A Lebanese bank accused of being at the center of global
money-laundering schemes tied to the militant group Hezbollah has agreed to pay a $102 million settlement, U.S. prosecutors in New York said Tuesday. The settlement would resolve a 2011 lawsuit that accused Lebanese Canadian Bank of using the U.S. banking system to launder drug-trafficking profits through West Africa back to Lebanon.

l  Barnes & Noble said Tuesday that it will stop making Nook tablets in-house and would look for manufacturing partners for the devices. While the company will continue to develop and make
e-ink readers, it will no longer make its own devices for the growing but crowded tablet market. The top U.S. bookstore chain reported another quarter of dismal results Tuesday, led by a 34 percent drop in sales of Nook devices and in its e-books business, and said that it expects sales to continue to decline this fiscal year at its bookstores. Barnes & Noble’s stock fell 17 percent, to $15.61 a share.

l  Former American International Group chief executive Maurice “Hank” Greenberg must face a fraud lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general’s office, the state’s highest court ruled Tuesday. The state can pursue its case over Greenberg’s alleged role in a sham reinsurance transaction and can seek an injunction banning him from the securities industry and from serving as an officer or director of a public company, the state Court of Appeals ruled. The decision is a blow to Greenberg, who has long argued that the lawsuit, filed in 2005 by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, is groundless.

— From staff reports and
news services

Coming Today

l  8:30 a.m.: First-quarter gross domestic product data released.

l  Earnings: General Mills, Monsanto.

Agriculture