Maine credit union assets up 3 percent in first half of 2010

Assets at Maine credit unions increased by 3 percent, or nearly $153 million, in the first six months of 2010, according to the Maine Credit Union League.

In the same period, loans increased by 1 percent, or $21.5 million, while deposits rose by 3 percent, or $145 million, the association said. Membership in the state’s 66 credit unions went up by 1 percent, or about 4,000 people.

Mastercard to buy DataCash Group for $520 million

MasterCard Inc. is looking to tap into the growth of online payments worldwide.

The company said Thursday that it will pay $520 million in cash for DataCash Group, which provides merchants with electronic payment and fraud prevention services.

The move is expected to help MasterCard bolster online use of cards that bear its name, particularly in Europe and Asia.

DataCash, based in London, has 362 workers and posted $58 million in revenue last year. It currently provides services primarily to European businesses.

MasterCard says the buyout will cut fourth-quarter net income by 5 cents per share. For the fiscal year 2011, the transaction is expected to break even, and to add to net income in 2012.

MSNBC rejects MoveOn.org ad calling for Target boycott

MSNBC rejected a TV ad calling for a boycott of Target Corp. after the retail giant made a political donation in Minnesota, continuing the controversy over corporate involvement in elections.

MSNBC spokeswoman Alana Russo said Thursday that the commercial submitted by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org violates its advertising policy by attacking an individual business directly. The ad features Target’s bullseye logo and accuses the chain of trying to buy elections.

MoveOn executive director Justin Ruben said the rejection was “the height of hypocrisy” and accused MSNBC and its corporate parent, General Electric Co., of trying to protect Target from consumer anger.

Minneapolis-based Target triggered a national backlash by giving $150,000 last month to a business-oriented political fund supporting conservative Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes gay marriage and other rights for same-sex couples.

Sears Holdings helped by profit gains for Kmart chain

Sears Holdings Corp. cut its second-quarter loss by more than half as profit margins perked up at its Kmart chain, the retailer led by billionaire Edward Lampert said Thursday.

Still, the company’s results fell short of expectations. Weak shopper spending and increased competition, especially on food, led to a revenue decline.

Sears shares fell as low as $61.77 in trading Thursday. afternoon they were down $5.24, or 7.8 percent, to $62.01.

Cuomo issues subpoena to AIG in fraud investigation

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed American International Group Inc. as part of a fraud investigation focusing on life insurers’ retention of death benefits, said two people briefed on the demands.

Lincoln National Corp., Aetna Inc., CNO Financial Group Inc. and Principal Financial Group Inc. also were ordered to turn over records, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the subpoenas hadn’t been publicly disclosed.

Cuomo is widening a probe after saying on July 29 that he subpoenaed MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc., the two largest U.S. life insurers. Bloomberg Markets magazine reported July 28 that more than 100 carriers earn investment income on $28 billion owed to life-insurance beneficiaries. The companies hold money in so-called retained-asset accounts, which include a “checkbook” for clients to access their funds.

Ex-workers seek documents in health benefits dispute

Unions representing former employees of the Sun-Times Media Group Inc. are seeking information from the company in a dispute over termination of health insurance benefits.

The unions have filed a motion in Delaware bankruptcy court seeking access to documents and other information from the company, which they claim has stopped paying for insurance coverage without court approval.

The company filed a notice late last year saying it planned to reject certain contracts that include severance agreements with the former employees, but the unions say the court has not yet given the Sun-Times permission to do so.

Caterpillar officials forecast ‘fantastic growth’ in future

Caterpillar Inc. officials said Thursday they don’t expect a double-dip recession because the world’s central banks haven’t made major errors and the economy has been improving throughout 2010, especially in the developing world.

New CEO Doug Oberhelman and other executives met with analysts in New York and discussed the opportunities ahead for the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment. The Peoria, Ill.-based company also affirmed its long-term profit goals.

“We don’t think the world has ended,” said Oberhelman, who has been with Caterpillar since 1975. “We think there is going to be fantastic growth in our industry in the future.”