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REWIND: International Business News #51

Unilever is set to sell its peanut butter brand Skippy to Hormel Foods for $700 million.  The acquisition will expand Hormel’s product offerings and will give the company greater exposure into international markets.  Sales of Skippy peanut butter in China alone represent $100 million of Skippy’s total annual sales of $370 million.  Included in the transaction were production plants located in Little Rock, Arkansas and Weifang, China. 

Avis Budget Group recently announced that it was purchasing car-sharing service Zipcar.  Zipcar will continue to operate as a subsidiary of Avis and “should realize significant savings on things like vehicle purchases and insurance, while being able to tap Avis’s fleet to meet demands on weekends when it is often short of cars.”  The purchase, valued at $500 million, validates the car-sharing segment of the car rental market.  Reaction to the deal has been mixed, with many pointing out that it should help make Zipcar more profitable, while others are concerned that the company’s innovative spirit and consumer friendly service model would become stifled by the more regimented atmosphere of the purchaser’s infrastructure.

The company that owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig recently agreed to pay $1.4 billion to the US Department of Justice in civil and criminal fines and penalties.  The company not only owned the rig, but also operated it at the time of the disaster, during which time they “accepted the direction of BP well site leaders to proceed in the race of clear danger signs – at a tragic cost to many of them.”  The settlement came as the federal government continued to close out the legal issues concerning the rig explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP has already been determined to have carried much of the culpability for the disaster.

InterDigital has filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission asking the ITC “to ban imports of certain handsets made by Samsung, Nokia, ZTE and Huawei, which it claims infringe seven of its patents.”  InterDigital is claiming that the four rival companies are selling 3G and 4G wireless devices that infringe on a number of InterDigital’s patents.  Corollary to the ITC complaint is a lawsuit filed by InterDigital in the US District Court for the District of Delaware seeking a “permanent sales ban on the related products and unspecified damages including enhanced damages based on its allegations of ‘wilful infringement’.”