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Business

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Briefs

Tobacco firm to buy Russia stake

Philip Morris is buying a 20 percent stake in Megapolis Distribution BV, the holding company for its Russian cigarette distributor, for $750 million.

Megapolis focuses mostly on the distribution of tobacco and beverages.

It handles about 70 percent of the cigarettes sold in Russia through distribution agreements with Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International and Imperial Tobacco Group.

The agreement also includes an additional payment of up to $100 million based on Megapolis’ operational performance over the four fiscal years after the deal’s closing.

Deere to expand its share buyback program

Deere & Co. said its board of directors approved an increase to the company’s share buyback program. It also declared a quarterly dividend.

The tractor-maker said last week that it will boost its share buyback program by $8 billion. It still has about $1 billion remaining from a $5 billion share buyback program announced in May 2008.

Since 2004, Deere said it has repurchased about $11 billion of common stock. The company said it had about 375 million outstanding shares as of Oct. 31.

Deere also announced a quarterly dividend of 51 cents per share, which will be paid on Feb. 3 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 31.

The action “reflects our confidence in the company’s long-term future growth opportunities,” Deere CEO Samuel Allen said.

The company, based in Moline, Ill., also makes mowers, plows and other gear used by farmers.

Fertilizer company to cut more than 1,000 jobs

Potash Corp. is cutting more than 1,000 jobs, about 18 percent of its workforce, because of slumping demand for potash and phosphate, two key fertilizer ingredients.

The Saskatchewan company said last week it will cut 440 jobs in its home Canadian province of Saskatchewan, 130 in New Brunswick, 350 in Florida, 85 in North Carolina, and 40 in other U.S. regions and Trinidad.

The company controls more than 25 percent of the world’s supply of potash, which helps farmers boost crop production.

Shares of nutrient companies were hammered this year after news that a big Russian fertilizer company would stop cooperating in a pricing cartel.

Potash has been selling for around $300 per ton, about $100 less than earlier this year.

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