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Avon near corruption settlement

Avon Products, the world’s largest door-to-door seller of cosmetics, is close to ending a six-year U.S. bribery probe that has racked up a price tag of about $500 million as the company grappled with a slump in sales.

Avon, which spent at least $344 million on an internal investigation of corrupt payments, will pay $135 million to settle U.S. criminal and civil claims that the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to company disclosures.

A subsidiary in China will also plead guilty.

Avon’s legal troubles have become known more for the cost of the investigation than for the scale of the misconduct. The cleanup is costing more than what Avon plans to save by cutting 650 jobs by 2016, a move to shore up the company. Avon has posted losses in five of the past six quarters.

“Every aspect of this investigation – from learning about the conduct to negotiating a final settlement – is indicative of a corporate culture that is just mismanaged and inefficient,” said Michael Volkov, an FCPA lawyer.

Avon began looking into allegations of improper payments in China in mid-2008, sparked by a whistleblower’s letter to then-Chief Executive Officer Andrea Jung.

‘Small number’ of jobs at Raytheon exit city

Raytheon is moving “a small number of positions” from Fort Wayne to its Forest, Mississippi, plant to more effectively use facilities, a spokeswoman said Friday.

The local operation is reducing its local facility footprint, which will result in some jobs going south, Corinne Kennedy wrote in an email response to a Journal Gazette query. She declined to say how many workers are affected.

“We will continue to maintain a strong engineering presence in Fort Wayne,” she said. “We routinely monitor all aspects of our business, including real estate, to ensure we remain positioned to deliver innovative, high value solutions to our customers.”

Rumors that the entire local operation is being relocated to Mississippi are not true, she said.

Vermont company acquires GW Micro

Ai Squared of Manchester Center, Vermont, has acquired Fort Wayne-based GW Micro Inc., according to a company official.

GW Micro is the maker of the Window-Eyes screen-reader system that enables visually impaired people to use the keyboard to navigate on a laptop computer or PC. Ai Squared is known for ZoomText, a magnification and reading software program also for the visually impaired.

Dan Weirch, vice president of business development at GW Micro, said that combined, companies will have about 50 employees and that the transaction won’t result in any job reductions.

GW Micro, 725 Airport North Office Park, was founded in 1990.

AstraZeneca rejects sweetened Pfizer bid

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on Friday flatly rejected drugmaker Pfizer’s sweetened takeover bid – worth $106 billion – just hours after it was leveled.

After being rebuffed twice, Pfizer Inc., the maker of Viagra, made a third attempt for its London rival Friday, offering $84 a share in cash and stock, a 7.3 increase on its last bid.

AstraZeneca said the “pipeline” of new drugs it is developing would be disrupted by a takeover.