Talking Points

TALKING POINTS

Cambridge to offer minibonds to small investors

INVESTMENTS

Cambridge
to offer minibonds to small investors

The City of Cambridge is trying to attract small investors to buy its municipal bonds, to fund work on schools, streets, and ball fields. The so-called minibonds will be available in increments of $1,000, instead of the usual $5,000. They’ll have a duration of five years and will be part of $2 million in bonds set aside for Cambridge residents in a total $65.8 million public debt offering. The munis will be sold online, with no fee, according to Cambridge Budget Director Jeana Franconi. Neighborly Securities, a San Francisco-based brokerage, will handle the sales. Franconi said the city was looking at “how we could engage the community more in our financial process.” The minibonds will be priced Feb. 17 and will be sold through Feb. 23. Current yields on such bonds, which are tax-exempt, would be 1.6 percent. — BETH HEALY

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Verizon wireless business remains sluggish

Verizon Communications Inc. continues to face a slowdown in its core wireless business, putting more pressure on the phone giant to show progress in its plan to transform into a media and advertising rival to Facebook and Google. The nation’s largest wireless carrier sacrificed profits in the fourth quarter by cutting prices and offering giveaways like free iPhones, but lured fewer customers than expected. The company added 591,000 subscribers, compared with 1.5 million a year earlier and the 744,056 projected by analysts. By comparison, T-Mobile US Inc. gained 1.2 million in the period. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS

Way cleared
for sale of University
of Phoenix
parent company

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The Higher Learning Commission, a college accreditation agency, has cleared the way for the $1.1 billion sale of Apollo Education Group, owner of the University of Phoenix, Western International University and College for Financial Planning, to a group of investors. The commission notified Apollo on Monday that it voted in favor of an application filed by the for-profit colleges to ensure they remain accredited after investors assume control of the parent company, according to a regulatory filing. All three institutions must submit quarterly reports to the commission detailing such things as enrollment, quarterly financials, and student retention rates. The purchase of one of the largest for-profit education companies has been met with criticism because of the involvement of Vistria Group, a private equity firm run by President Obama’s friend Marty Nesbitt and former deputy education secretary Tony Miller. Vistria is among a consortium of investors bidding to take the publicly traded Apollo private, but its ties to the Obama administration sparked controversy over the Education Department’s objectivity in approving the deal. The Obama administration made holding for-profit colleges accountable for poor student outcomes and abusive practices a cornerstone of its higher education policy. Phoenix, like other for-profit schools, has been battered by government investigations, heightened federal regulation, and poor enrollment. — WASHINGTON POST

OFFICE PRODUCTS

3M’s sales fall
on weak demand

3M Co.’s fourth-quarter sales fell in its consumer division as the maker of Post-it notes contended with weak demand for office products and stationery. The business posted its first year-over-year decline since 2009, Deane Dray, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note Tuesday. The ‘‘uncharacteristic softness’’ offset better performance elsewhere, he said. The results capped a challenging year for 3M, which faced a steady drag from a strong US dollar and a sharp downturn in the consumer-electronics market. With about two-thirds of revenue coming from overseas, the maker of adhesives, touch screens, and dental tools has attempted to reduce US expenses and strengthen business in Europe and Latin America. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

PHARMACEUTICALS

Johnson & Johnson profits rise

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Johnson & Johnson edged above fourth-quarter profit expectations, helped by consumer goods and pharmaceutical growth, but the world’s biggest health care products company also gave Wall Street a softer-than-expected 2017 earnings forecast. The maker of Band-Aids and prescription drugs also said Tuesday it was taking another step in restructuring its medical device segment by shopping its diabetes care businesses, which make test strips and insulin pumps, among other products. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

REAL ESTATE

Pittsburgh’s tallest building up for sale

Pittsburgh’s tallest building is for sale, and the US Steel Tower could go for a sky-high price. Real Estate Alert, a trade publication that first reported the listing, says the 64-story, triangular office building could fetch $350 million. The current owner, 601W Cos., a New York holding company, paid $250 million for the building in 2011. The owners have spent $60 million upgrading the building and have two major tenants, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has corporate offices there, and US Steel. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ADULT WEBSITES

Operators
of Backpage.com
want pimping charges dropped

The operators of Backpage.com pushed for pimping charges to be tossed out for the second time Tuesday, two weeks after the website that prosecutors dubbed an online brothel stopped advertising adult services in the face of a congressional investigation. The California attorney general’s office charged Backpage executives Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin last month with conspiracy to commit pimping and 26 counts of money laundering. Ferrer also is charged with 12 counts of pimping, seven involving children. The men are accused of knowingly profiting from prostitution. The charges allege that the three laundered nearly $37 million derived directly or indirectly from illegal activity from July 2014 through August 2016, with the monthly take often topping $2 million.
— ASSOCIATED PRESS

RAIL TRAVEL

Landmark departure board removed at
Penn Station

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A longstanding ritual for travelers at the nation’s busiest rail hub came to an end late Monday when workers began removing the large board that announced the times and platforms of departing trains at Pennsylvania Station. The 10-foot-tall electronic timetable had long been the center of attention in the utilitarian waiting area for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit passengers, with travelers forced to keep their eyes trained on the display to know which gate to dash to when their train rolled in. On Tuesday, it was a dark hulk, replaced with 40 eye-level digital panels scattered around the station. An Amtrak team will dismantle the sign within a week. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

AIRLINES

American’s new
737 Max planes won’t have
seat-back screens

Passengers who want to watch a movie on American Airlines Group’s new 737 Max better bring a device to watch it on. The carrier said it won’t feature seat-back video screens on the Boeing Co. aircraft because almost all travelers now carry mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Satellite-based systems have improved on-board Internet speed and access, which will enhance the viewing experience, the Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said. The move marks a reversal for chief executive Doug Parker, who said less than a year ago that American would have seat-back screens on all of its planes to remain competitive.
— BLOOMBERG NEWS

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