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Briefs

WellPoint abruptly fires exec

WellPoint Inc. has fired General Counsel John Cannon, who led the nation’s second-largest health insurer for a few months after former CEO Angela Braly stepped down in 2012.

The Indianapolis company gave no reason for the dismissal in a brief statement Friday morning. WellPoint said Cannon, who also is an executive vice president and chief public affairs officer, will remain employed until March 3 to help with the transition.

Cannon’s assistant referred a request for comment to WellPoint’s communications department.

Braly resigned in August 2012 as investors became frustrated with disappointing results from the insurer, which made the rare move of lowering its annual earnings forecast a month before she left. Cannon replaced her until last March, when new CEO Joseph Swedish took over.

Existing-home sales drop 5.1% in January

Sales of existing U.S. homes plummeted in January to the worst pace in 18 months. Cold weather, limited supplies of homes on the market and higher buying costs held back purchases.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million units last month. That was down 5.1 percent from the December pace. The sales rate declined 5.1 percent over the previous 12 months.

Under Armour extends speedskating suit deal

Athletic-gear maker Under Armour has signed an eight-year deal with U.S. Speedskating to provide uniforms despite controversy over the suit it provided the team at the Sochi Olympics.

Under Armour spent years developing a new speedskating suit that debuted during the Olympics but flopped. U.S. speedskaters, including favorite Shani Davis, didn’t medal, and some blamed the suit. The team reverted to an older Under Armour suit, but results have not improved.

Under Armour Inc. said Friday it is ready to try again. The Baltimore-based company will outfit the U.S. speedskating team for the next two Winter Olympics, beginning with South Korea in 2018.

Fannie Mae posts profitable quarter

Fannie Mae posted net income of $6.5 billion from October through December, its eighth straight profitable quarter. Fannie will have repaid its full government bailout after paying its fourth-quarter dividend.

Fannie said Friday that its full-year profit of $84 billion for 2013 was boosted by rising home prices and an accounting move capitalizing on tax benefits it had accumulated from losses on mortgages during the financial crisis.

The fourth-quarter profit slipped from earnings of $7.6 billion in the same period of 2012.

Washington-based Fannie will pay a dividend of $7.2 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month.

Nissan, Bhutan partner on plug-in electric cars

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has tapped Nissan Motor Co. to supply electric cars for its taxis and government fleet, hoping to reduce reliance on imported oil.

Under the agreement announced Friday, Nissan will supply its Leaf electric car and set up charging stations in Bhutan.

Bhutan, with a population of 720,000, produces and exports hydroelectricity. But it’s eager to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels shipped in from abroad.

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