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Briefs

Expansion heating up at Merlot’s

Upscale steakhouse Eddie Merlot’s is celebrating the opening of its 10th restaurant and announced plans for further expansion Monday.

The Fort Wayne-based chain recently opened a location in Pittsburgh. The company also has an eatery under construction in Englewood, Colorado, and expects to announce three additional locations later in the year.

Eddie Merlot’s founder and president Bill Humphries began his business in 2001. He expects sales to surpass $50 million this year.

Several employers set for Bluffton jobs fair

Adams Wells Human Resource Group is sponsoring a job fair from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 20.

The event will take place at Wells County Chamber of Commerce, 211 Water St., Bluffton. Employers from the health care, manufacturing, retail and service industries will participate. Human-resource professionals will be on hand to assist with resume writing.

For more information, call 824-4322.

Use of virtual currency prompts state warning

Connie Lawson, Indiana’s secretary of state, cautioned investors Monday to consider the risks associated with virtual currencies, such as bitcoin.

Virtual currency can be earned, bought or sold. It can be used to buy goods and services from businesses that accept it. The currency is stored in a digital file, known as an electronic wallet. Owners have no options if virtual currency disappears. By contrast, bank deposits are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“Unlike traditional currency, these alternatives typically are not backed by tangible assets, are not issued by a governmental authority and are subject to little or no regulation,” Lawson said in a statement. “The value of virtual currencies is highly volatile, and the concept behind the currency is difficult to understand even for sophisticated financial experts.”

Carol Mihalik, Indiana securities commissioner, echoed Lawson’s concerns.

“Investors should be aware that investments that incorporate virtual currency present very real risks,” she said in a statement. “It pays to do your homework before you invest in any investment opportunity, including virtual currency.”

Fiat merger charges erase Chrysler profit

Chrysler Group saw big sales gains in the first quarter, thanks to the new Jeep Cherokee and Ram pickup, but it lost money because of charges related to its merger with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

Chrysler posted a loss of $690 million for the January-March period. Without one-time costs of $1.2 billion, the company’s net income more than doubled to $486 million.

In January, Fiat paid $3.65 billion to a union-run health care trust to acquire Chrysler’s remaining shares. The two companies are in the process of combining to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which will be based in London but maintain significant operations in both Turin, Italy, and Auburn Hills, Michigan.

As part of the merger, Chrysler agreed to pay $700 million to upgrade its factories. The company took a $672 million charge in the first quarter to meet those commitments. It also booked a $540 million non-cash loss for refinancing a 2009 note issued to the union-run trust, which pays for retirees’ health care.

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