Monday AM August 6th, 2007

Houston Technology Center to help foreign firms to connect with city's IT professionals...Houston facility in $1.8 billion deal with Dubai company...Panel being created to safeguard Wall Street Journal's editorial integrity after takeover by News Corp...

The Houston Technology Center is launching its HTC Americas program to make it easier for foreign firms to quickly make connections with the city's technology professionals or academics. HTC President and CEO Walter Ulrich says the new Emerging Technology Council will work to make Houston the gateway for Latin American companies that want to penetrate the market. The group will host programs and events to bring technology entrepreneurs together with decision-makers from Houston corporations.

The $1.8 billion sale of a U.S.-based aviation business to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise includes a Houston facility, according to the Houston Business Journal. The Dubai firm is acquiring Landmark Aviation, which has 43 U.S. sites, including one in Houston. The Houston Landmark facility employs just under 200 people, providing maintenance for business jets. The deal also includes Standard Aero Holdings, which overhauls engines and turbines in small jets. The deal has passed national security and anti-trust scrutiny without raising the same level of concern that a bid by Dubai Port World to buy six of the largest U.S. ports. That deal was stopped by Congress.

Houston-based Newfield Exploration has sold its Cherokee Basin coal-bed methane assets in Oklahoma to Maryland-based Constellation Energy Partners in a $128 million deal, according to the Houston Business Journal. The assets include more than 650 producing wells.

The pace of growth in the services sector of the economy slowed a bit last month. The Institute for Supply Management says its non-manufacturing index dipped to a reading of 55.8 in July. It came in at 60.7 in June and 59.7 in May. Economists had expected a reading of 58.5. Index readings above 50 indicate activity is expanding. The institute's non-manufacturing index is comprised primarily of the service-related firms that make up most of overall U.S. economic activity.

The Labor Department says the nation's unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.6 percent last month. That is an increase of one-tenth of one percent. Job growth was not as strong as expected. Employers added some 92,000 jobs to payrolls, the smallest increase since February. Job losses in construction, manufacturing, retailing and by the government countered gains in education and health care, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality.

A panel is being created to safeguard the Wall Street Journal's editorial integrity after a takeover by News Corp. It will include veteran newsmen, a former GOP Congresswoman and a high-tech guru with close ties to News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. and Dow Jones said in financial filings this week that the five-member committee would include Nicholas Negroponte, a founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's media lab and chairman of a nonprofit group developing cheap laptops for use by children in third world countries. Murdoch has been an important backer of Negroponte's philanthropic group One Laptop Per Child. At issue is whether panel members will be willing or able to halt any changes in editorial tone or policy for the Wall Street Journal, if any are intended.

Chrysler is now owned by Cerberus Capital Management, completing a $7.4 billion deal that sets the 82-year-old automaker on a new path to recovery as a privately held company. Germany's DaimlerChrysler agreed in May to sell an 80 percent stake in Chrysler to Cerberus, while retaining an almost 20 percent interest in the company. Wolfgang Bernhard, a former Chrysler executive and a senior adviser to Cerberus, is expected to be named chairman of the board of directors of Chrysler Holding. Chrysler Chief Executive Tom Lasorda will continue to run the company's day-to-day operations. DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, is to be renamed Daimler, with shareholders expected to ratify that change at a meeting in October.

Toyota reports its latest quarterly profit rose 32 percent to a record, helped by strong global sales and a weaker yen. Surging gasoline prices have also given the automaker a boost. Drivers have been buying up its fuel-efficient models like the U.S. best-selling Camry and the Prius hybrid. The company's group net profit topped $4 billion. Toyota has already driven past General Motors in global vehicle sales for the first half of the calendar year. Many analysts believe Toyota will likely beat GM for the full year in both sales and production.

The Del Lago Golf Resort and Conference Center on Lake Conroe has been renamed LaCara Resort & Spa, according to the Houston Business Journal. The French Quarter Group is investing more than $100 million to purchase and renovate the complex it acquired in June. LaCara will have 445 suites, a restaurant, meeting and event space, a spa/health complex, an updated golf course and an ice skating rink when it opens in the summer of 2008. The grounds also include a swimming pool complex and a marina.

Tags: News


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