Business

SC business notebook, Nov. 16

Administration wants to reduce ethanol in fuel supply

The Obama administration on Friday proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply for the first time, acknowledging that the biofuel law championed by both parties in 2007 is not working as well as expected. While the proposal highlights the government’s struggle to ramp up production of homegrown biofuels that are cleaner-burning than gasoline, but is unlikely to mean much for consumers at the pump. The change would require almost 3 billion gallons less ethanol and other biofuels to be blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law requires. The 2007 law tried to address global warming by requiring oil companies to blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their gasoline each year. But politicians who wrote the law didn’t anticipate fuel economy to improve as much as it has in recent years, which reduced demand for gasoline.

Jos. A Bank withdraws offer for Men’s Wearhouse

Jos. A. Bank withdrew its $2.3 billion offer to buy rival Men’s Wearhouse. Jos. A. Bank made an unsolicited offer of $48 per share for Men’s Wearhouse Inc. in September. Men’s Wearhouse rejected the bid in October, calling it “opportunistic” and “inadequate.” In late October, Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. announced that it would terminate its bid by Nov. 14 if there continued to be no discussions on the proposal. The company says it still believes that a deal could be in the best interest of both companies’ shareholders.

Newspaper trade group’s challenge rejected

An appeals court panel has rejected a challenge by a newspaper trade group to a U.S. Postal Service agreement with a direct mailing company. In the agreement, Valassis Direct Mail Inc. receives discounted postage rates for some of its advertisement mailers once its mail volume hits a certain level. The Newspaper Association of America challenged the deal, citing a legal requirement that such deals not cause “unreasonable harm to the marketplace.” But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with the Postal Service. At stake for newspapers is advertising revenue.

JPMorgan Chase settles for $4.5 billion

The checks from JPMorgan Chase just keep on coming as the nation’s largest bank works to move beyond its mortgage-related troubles. On Friday, JPMorgan reached a $4.5 billion settlement with a group of investors over claims that the bank sold them shaky mortgage-backed securities that imploded later, leading to large losses. The multibillion-dollar payout is separate from the tentative $13 billion settlement that JPMorgan reached with the Justice Department over the bank’s questionable mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis. That deal could be announced as early as next week, according to people briefed on the settlement. The move on Friday to settle with the group, comprising 21 institutional investors, comes as JPMorgan and its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, work to mend frayed relationships in Washington and wrap up a number of investigations dogging the bank.

The Associated Press and New York Times contributed.

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