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Iraq, GE sign $400 million deal for power infrastructure


GE signs deal to develop Iraq’s power infrastructure

BAGHDAD — Iraq and General Electric have signed a deal to develop Iraq’s power infrastructure, which would help bring much-needed electricity to areas facing significant shortages across the country. GE said in a statement released on Wednesday that the more than $400 million contract will help build 14 electric substations and supply critical equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, and other outdoor equipment to revamp existing substations. GE said the substations will hook up power plants in the provinces of Ninevah, Salahuddin, Anbar, Baghdad, Karbala, Qadissiyah, and Basra to the national grid. GE will also help Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity secure funding through various financial institutions, it said. Despite billions of dollars spent since the 2003 US-led invasion, many Iraqi cities and towns are still experiencing severe power cuts and blackouts. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Two women accuse Charlie Rose of sexual harassment while at CBS

NEW YORK — The morning show where Charlie Rose worked until being fired Tuesday is reporting that two women at CBS News claim that Rose grabbed them inappropriately, with one saying he also whispered a sexual innuendo. The accusations came to light after CBS News president David Rhodes fired the host on Tuesday for what he called extremely disturbing and intolerable behavior by Rose toward women at his PBS talk show. PBS has also cut ties to Rose. ‘‘CBS This Morning’’ said three women at CBS have reported misconduct by Rose. The network said that all three requested anonymity, and that one didn’t want details of her accusations made public. Rose has apologized. His former cohost, Gayle King, said Wednesday that it’s important to keep reporting on the story. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Trump name to be removed from NYC hotel

President Trump’s company has agreed to remove the Trump name from its hotel in Lower Manhattan and give up management of the property, the most visible sign yet of the toll his presidency has taken on his brand. The decision, announced by the company Wednesday afternoon, follows signs that business has flagged for months at Trump SoHo, beginning during his polarizing campaign last year. The hotel’s sushi restaurant closed. Professional sports teams, once reliable customers, began to shun the property. The hotel struggled to attract business for its meeting rooms and banquet halls, according to radio station WNYC. Trump SoHo has emerged as one of the clearest examples of how Trump’s politics have redefined his luxury hotel and real estate company, which spent years courting upscale customers in liberal urban centers where he is now unpopular. — WASHINGTON POST



Britain clamps down on spending as Brexit looms

LONDON — Britain’s Treasury chief has outlined cautious spending plans to a nation bracing for the shock of Britain’s departure from the European Union amid steady worsening economic forecasts. Philip Hammond revealed Wednesday a deteriorating outlook, as a slowing economy and stubborn deficit mean there is little money to increase public spending in the face of demands from teachers, firefighters, and the military. Adding to the pressure is the government’s need to preserve coffers for potential Brexit turmoil. Hammond offered $3.9 billion over two years to prepare for Brexit as well as some relief for first-time home buyers but otherwise sidestepped eye-popping initiatives. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


EU countries could run afoul of spending rules

Budget plans by Italy, France, and four other euro-area countries risk violating the European Union’s spending rules, the bloc’s executive arm said, while it delivered a warning to Rome about high government debt. In a set of assessments presented by the European Commission as part of the euro area’s fiscal framework, the 2018 spending plans for France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, and Slovenia were found to be at risk of noncompliance with the bloc’s rules. For Italy, France, and Belgium, debt reduction was also projected to not be in line with the foreseen level. In the case of Italy “the persisting high government debt is a reason of concern.” It added that its top economic officials sent a letter to Italian authorities to inform them that the commission intends to reassess Italy’s compliance with the debt reduction benchmark in the spring of 2018. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Number of jobless claims falls for first time in three weeks

WASHINGTON The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell for the first time in three weeks, pushing total applications down to a low 239,000, further evidence of the strength of the labor market. Applications dropped by 13,000 last week after rising by 13,000 the previous week, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. The four-week average, which smooths out volatility, rose by 1,250 to 239,750. The number of people receiving benefits rose by 36,000 to 1.9 million, still near a 44-year low. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is the latest official to investigate ride-hailing pioneer Uber after the company acknowledged this week that it was the target of a massive data breach in 2016. The Democrat told WGBH-FM on Wednesday that she had requested documents and other information from Uber, adding her office is keeping all criminal and civil options on the table. Uber said that hackers stole personal information about more than 57 million of its customers and drivers, but that there was no evidence the stolen data was misused. The company said it paid the hackers $100,000 to destroy the material. Healey said Uber knew about the theft for a year and failed to disclose it as required under Massachusetts law. Other law enforcement officials, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have opened investigations into whether Uber violated laws requiring the disclosure of major breaches to customers and legal authorities. —ASSOCIATED PRESS



Investor in Outback Steakhouse parent company may push for sale

Bloomin’ Brands Inc. could soon join a boomin’ M&A trend. Activist investor Jana Partners disclosed a stake in the Outback Steakhouse operator on Monday and said it may push for a sale or operational changes. A 30 percent premium to Bloomin’ Brands unaffected stock price indicates a takeover value in the range of $3.3 billion, including $1.1 billion in net debt. Analysts have speculated Jana’s true aim is a breakup: CL King’s Michael Gallo estimates the Bonefish and Carrabba’s chains could command $1 billion combined. Bloomberg Intelligence’s Michael Halen says Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is a weird fit and could fetch more than $350 million on its own. Whether Bloomin’ Brands is sold in pieces or as a whole, any transaction would send an already rising tally of restaurant M&A even higher. There have been 173 eatery takeovers announced globally so far this year, the highest count since 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Should prospective targets such as Bloomin’ Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., and Jack in the Box Inc.’s Qdoba Mexican restaurant actually be acquired, transaction volume for the industry could hit a record. —BLOOMBERG GADFLY