Hewlett-Packard’s choice for CEO gets cool reception

Hewlett-Packard Co. has hired recently discarded software executive Leo Apotheker to steer the world’s largest technology company as it tries to prove it can thrive without its previous leader, Mark Hurd.

Apotheker, a 57-year-old German, spent most of his career at business software maker SAP AG before being promoted to CEO in April 2008. He lasted less than two years in the position, largely because SAP’s financial performance faltered after Apotheker raised the fees that customers paid to maintain and upgrade software.

The initial response to Apotheker’s appointment was icy. HP shares fell $1.21, or nearly 3 percent, in extended trading after finishing Thursday’s regular session at $42.07, down 46 cents.

The hire ends HP’s nearly two-month search to fill the void created when its board ended Hurd’s five-year reign as CEO amid allegations of sexual harassment and deceptive expense reports.

Maker of epilepsy medicine agrees to pay $422.5 million

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. will pay $422.5 million in penalties for marketing an epilepsy medicine for unapproved uses and for paying kickbacks to doctors to prescribe it and five other drugs.

The company agreed to plead guilty to distribution of a misbranded drug and pay a criminal fine and forfeiture totaling $185 million, said U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. Novartis will also pay $237.5 million to resolve civil liabilities over kickbacks and off-label marketing of the anti-epileptic drug Trileptal, according to the settlement agreement.

Ireland to pour $16 billion more into banking system

Ireland will have to pump $16 billion more into its crippled banking system, dealing more grief to shellshocked Irish taxpayers.

Coupled with the downgrade of Spain’s bonds by a third ratings agency, the news Thursday from Dublin provided more evidence that Europe has not shed the debt troubles that shook the continent this spring as Greece teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.

Irish government leaders described the total bill to fix their banks, about $60 billion, as “horrible” but manageable. The bailout will swell Ireland’s deficit this year to a staggering 32 percent of economic output, the biggest in post-World War II Europe.

Dollar Thrifty shareholders reject Hertz’s buyout offer

Shareholders of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. rejected a buyout offer from Hertz on Thursday, against the recommendation of the company’s board.

The rejection likely takes Hertz out of the bidding for the car-rental chain and offers an opening for rival bidder Avis Budget Group.

Dollar Thrifty said 11.8 million votes were cast for the Hertz offer at a shareholder meeting Thursday in Chicago, while 13.8 million shares were cast against the deal. There were 4,735 abstentions.

Dollar Thrifty’s board had said it preferred Hertz’s offer to one by Avis throughout much of the months-long bidding war.

China objects to U.S. law on exchange rate penalties

Beijing warned Washington on Thursday that economic ties might be damaged after Congress escalated the conflict over China’s currency controls, inching the economic giants closer to a trade war.

The Commerce Ministry said a measure given final approval Wednesday by Congress allowing Washington to penalize governments that manipulate exchange rates violated free-trade rules. It gave no indication whether Beijing might retaliate, though it has imposed antidumping duties in recent months on imports of U.S. chicken, steel and nylon.

Congress was responding to complaints that Beijing keeps its yuan undervalued, giving its exporters an unfair price advantage and costing U.S. jobs.