Drilling rig’s owner had cut 2009 bonuses over concerns

Transocean Ltd., which owned the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, eliminated bonuses for top executives last year over concerns about safety problems at the company.

The company said in a regulatory filing on April 1 that it eliminated the bonuses “to underscore the company’s commitment to safety and to increase the incentive for executive officers to promote the avoidance of future fatal accidents.”

Less than three weeks later, the company’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which it leased to BP PLC, blew up and sank. Eleven workers were killed and the accident spawned a huge oil spill that is now endangering wildlife and businesses along the Gulf Coast.

Google plans to start selling ‘device-agnostic’ e-books

Google Inc. plans to begin selling e-books this summer over a platform that would allow readers to load the books onto multiple electronic devices, the company said Tuesday.

The search giant outlined the plan during a panel discussion in New York that was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The service is called Google Editions and will allow users to buy e-books directly from the company, as well as through other retailers.

No details were given about the price of books or which publishers would participate in the project.

Gabriel Stricker, a spokesman for Google, acknowledged Tuesday that the Google Editions service was being targeted for a launch sometime this summer. The service would also be “device-agnostic” — meaning that any Internet-enabled device could download and read the books.

CVS says its sales suffered from mild cold, flu season

CVS Caremark Corp. said Tuesday its profit rose 4.5 percent in the first quarter, but said the mild cold and flu season hurt its sales.

CVS raised the low end of its profit forecast for the year, pointing to its first-quarter results and confidence about its performance for the rest of the year.

But it reduced its revenue expectations, saying total revenue will be equal or slightly lower than its 2009 results. It said that was because of the surprisingly mild flu season.

Senate panel follows House with overhaul of auto safety

A Senate committee on Tuesday proposed a major overhaul to the nation’s auto safety requirements following Toyota’s prominent recalls.

The changes would force car companies to meet new safety standards and face stiff penalties for failing to report defects.

The Senate Commerce Committee plan would push auto manufacturers to meet new standards related to brake override systems, vehicle black boxes and auto electronics following Toyota’s recall of more than 8 million vehicles around the globe.

It follows a similar bill released last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, underscoring Congress’ intent to bring the first significant reforms to auto safety since the Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tire recalls of a decade ago.

“Recent Toyota recalls showed an urgent need to update safety standards to reflect modern vehicle technology and give auto safety regulators the stronger tools and resources they need to protect the public,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the committee’s chairman.

News Corp. income grows 55 percent in third quarter

News Corp., the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, said Tuesday that it is benefiting from a rebound in the economy and the lingering glow of “Avatar.”

News Corp. earned $839 million, or 32 cents per share, in the fiscal third quarter, which ended March 31. That marked a 69 percent plunge in net income from a year earlier, when it recorded a huge gain on the sale of its stake in a technology company.

In the same period last year the company had net income of $2.7 billion, or $1.04 per share.

But News Corp.’s operating income, which doesn’t include the effects of the accounting charge, grew 55 percent to $1.25 billion in the third quarter from $810 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose 19 percent to $8.79 billion, thanks to a $1 billion uptick from its 20th Century Fox movie studio, which benefited from the release of “Avatar.” Revenue in the year-earlier period was $7.37 billion.