Olympus to pay $646 million fine in kickback case

Olympus Corp., the nation’s largest distributor of endoscopes and related equipment, will pay $646 million to resolve separate criminal and civil investigations into kickbacks and foreign bribery, company and federal officials announced Tuesday. Olympus said its US unit will pay $623.2 million plus interest to end the kickback case in New Jersey. The company also agreed to a corporate-integrity agreement and the appointment of a monitor. The firm’s Latin American medical business will pay $22.8 million to resolve a separate criminal case in which it allegedly violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Federal officials said they will drop criminal charges facing both units as part of the deferred prosecution agreement. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Senate panel would bar states from labeling GMO foods

States could no longer require labeling of genetically modified foods under legislation approved by a Senate panel. The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 14-6 Tuesday to prevent the labeling on packages of foods that include genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. Vermont is set to require such labels this summer, and other states are considering similar laws. Senators have said they want to find a compromise on the labeling issue before Vermont’s law kicks in. The legislation is similar to a bill the House passed last year. The food industry has strongly backed both bills, saying GMOs are safe and a patchwork of state laws isn’t practical. Labeling advocates have been fighting state-by-state to enact the labeling, with the eventual goal of a national standard. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Former CEO of Chesapeake Energy indicted for bid rigging

Aubrey McClendon, the cofounder and former chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy Corp., was indicted on charges that he conspired to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural gas leases in northwest Oklahoma, the US Justice Department said in a statement. McClendon is accused of orchestrating a scheme between two “large oil and gas companies” to not bid against each other for leases. From December 2007 to March 2012, the conspirators decided ahead of time who would win the leases and the winning bidder would then allocate an interest in the leases to the other company, the government said. The companies, which aren’t defendants in the case, are identified in the indictment as Company A and Company B. During his almost quarter-century at the helm of Chesapeake, the 56-year-old McClendon embraced drilling and fracking innovations that unleashed the shale revolution ignored by the world’s biggest energy producers, building the company into what was for a time the largest US source of gas. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


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Marathon to sell shares to raise $1.3b as market slump continues

Marathon Oil joins a slew of US producers selling shares to shore up their finances as they endure the worst market rout in a generation. The producer plans to offer 135 million common shares, and underwriters will have the option to buy an additional 20.25 million, Houston-based Marathon said in a statement. That total would amount to about $1.3 billion at the closing price Monday, making it the company’s biggest share raise on record and increasing shares outstanding by about 20 percent. Marathon is the latest US oil company raising money by selling shares as it seeks funds to help ride out the worst oil-price downturn in decades. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Sports Authority plans to file for bankruptcy

Sports Authority Inc. is planning to file for bankruptcy within the next few days, assuming it can finalize terms for a loan to keep it operating during court proceedings, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The retailer is sorting out details on the loan, known as debtor-in-possession financing, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Lenders such as Wellington Management and Blackstone Group’s credit unit GSO Capital Partners are considering providing the financing, two of the people said. They are two of the holders of Sports Authority’s $300 million term debt maturing in November 2017. Sports Authority plans to close about 150 stores as part of its bankruptcy plan, according to one of the people. It’s also in discussions about potentially selling stores to Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. and Modell’s Sporting Goods, people with knowledge of the talks said this week. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Honeywell abandons bid for United Technologies

Honeywell abandoned a bid worth more than $90 billion for rival United Technologies, saying it did not want to force a deal with an unwilling partner. United Technologies rejected the offer last week, saying a tie-up of the two industrial conglomerates would never be approved by antitrust regulators. Honeywell said it disagreed, but that it would not go any further if United Technologies was not willing. The two companies had held talks for some time before those negotiations became public. United Technologies had brought up the possibility of combining the companies in 2011 and 2015, Honeywell said. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


China may lay off as many as 6M workers

China aims to lay off as many as 6 million workers at state-owned enterprises within three years as part of plans to cut capacity and rein in pollution, Reuters reported, citing two unidentified sources with ties to the country’s leadership. Reuters cited one person as saying the plan was for 5 million layoffs from industries suffering a supply glut. The other said the layoffs could reach 6 million workers, according to the news agency. It said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology didn’t respond to a request for comment. The country will spend almost 150 billion yuan ($22.9 billion) to cover the layoffs in just the coal and steel sectors in the next two to three years, and the total cost may be more than that, according to Reuters. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Car sales jump in February

Automakers posted big US sales gains last month as consumers — giddy from Super Bowl ads — returned to showrooms after a snowy January. Sales rose 7 percent over last February to 1.3 million vehicles, according to Autodata Corp. Automakers reported February sales on Tuesday. Ford’s sales rose 20 percent over last February, boosted in part by higher sales to rental car fleets. Honda’s sales were up 13 percent and Fiat Chrysler’s rose 12 percent. Nissan’s sales rose nearly 11 percent and Toyota’s were up 4 percent. Hyundai’s sales rose 1 percent. General Motors said its sales fell 1.5 percent, partly due to a 39 percent cut in rental sales. Volkswagen, still stinging from its diesel cheating scandal, saw its US sales drop 13 percent. Industry analysts had expected February sales to bounce back after a slight decline in January. One factor: Super Bowl ads. On Super Bowl Sunday, which was Feb. 7, Website visits per dealership were four times higher than any other Sunday in all of 2015, according to Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Autotrader.com. Credit applications also hit single-day records last month. — ASSOCIATED PRESS