National Semiconductor layoffs won’t affect Maine

The new owner of National Semiconductor says it won’t cut any jobs here.

Texas Instruments Inc. officials were in South Portland this week to meet employees at the former National Semiconductor plant, which has 550 workers. Texas Instruments completed its $6.5 billion purchase of California-based National Semiconductor Corp. on Sept. 23.

Texas Instruments’ Senior Vice President Kevin Ritchie told the Bangor Daily News that the merger of the former rivals will result in about 5 percent of National Semiconductor’s worldwide work force being cut because of overlap in sales, administration and general support areas.

But he said none of those cuts will be at the South Portland plant.

Chipotle opening second Maine eatery in Westbrook

Chipotle Mexican Restaurant plans to open its second Maine location in a shopping center on Main Street in Westbrook.

Fans of the national fast-food chain, famous for its burritos, flocked to the opening of its South Portland store in December.

According to permits filed with the city, Chipotle plans to move into part of a Blockbuster store in Westbrook Crossing, a plaza on the corner of Route 25 and Riverside Street that is also home to a Kohl’s store and Panera Bread.

Keith Luke, Westbrook’s economic development director, said the shopping center has “one of the strongest tenant bases in southern Maine, and this certainly will continue that trend.”

Japanese parts supplier to pay fine for price-fixing

A Tokyo-headquartered auto parts supplier has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $200 million fine in what the Justice Department said Thursday is an active investigation into an international price-fixing and bid-rigging cartel.

Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. and three of its executives, who also have agreed to plead guilty, conspired with competitors and as a result “automobile manufacturers paid noncompetitive and higher prices for parts in cars sold to U.S. consumers,” said Sharis Pozen, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

H&R Block shuttering its EXPRESSTAX early service

H&R Block Inc. is stopping service under its EXPRESSTAX brand, which helped people who filed their taxes early and wanted refunds quickly.

The news comes a little over two weeks after the nation’s biggest tax preparer announced that it won’t offer refund anticipation loans next tax season because it’s getting more new clients and the appeal of the high-cost loans is shrinking.

EXPRESSTAX was traditionally an early season business, an H&R Block spokesman said. Typically, the customers who sought refund anticipation loans did so in late January and February. The spokesman could not confirm whether EXPRESSTAX handled a large percentage of the loans.

CEO Bill Cobb said the company is getting rid of the brand because “it was no longer a growth driver and therefore not a good fit for our company.”

S&P upgrades debt rating for GM after contract deal

Standard & Poor’s said Thursday that it has upgraded General Motors Co.’s debt rating after reviewing the company’s new four-year contract with the United Auto Workers union.

“We believe the contract will allow for continued profitability and cash generation in North America,” Robert Schulz of Standard & Poor’s said in a statement.

The UAW announced on Wednesday that its members had voted to ratify the contract by a 2-1 ratio.

Standard & Poor’s increased GM’s debt rating from BB- to BB+.

— From staff and news services