General Motors to open new center near Atlanta

General Motors says a new information technology center in suburban Atlanta expected to open by March will create 1,000 white-collar jobs as part of its new focus on producing software and other applications in-house.

The automaker announced Thursday that it is hiring software developers, project managers, database experts, business analysts and other information technology professionals to staff its Information Technology Innovation Center in Roswell.

State officials said the company has invested $26 million in the development and are calling it another step toward establishing the area as a hub for technological innovation.

China Burger King diners get told no Coke – Pepsi

Diners who go to a Burger King in China can now expect to be served Pepsi, rather than the Coke they get at the fast-food chain in the United States.

PepsiCo Inc. says it struck a deal to serve its drinks at Burger King in China for the first time, taking over a deal the chain had with the Coca-Cola Co.

PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., recently moved to broaden its distribution in the fast-growing China market by swapping its holdings in its bottling operations there for a stake in Tingyi, a Chinese beverage maker.

Ford to double dividend to 10 cents per share

Ford announced Thursday it is doubling the dividend it pays shareholders to 10 cents per share, surprising the investment community and pushing up the stock price.

The dividend is payable March 1 to shareholders of record on Jan. 30.

The move reflects the strength of the automaker’s financial position: a combination of strong earnings, increased liquidity, and confidence the positive results will continue in 2013.

The increase comes nearly a year earlier than expectations, said Peter Nesvold, equity analyst with Jefferies & Co.

Amazon.com Inc. launches CD service called AutoRip

Amazon.com Inc. took another step toward improving its position in the digital-music market Thursday, launching a new service that will give customers free digital versions of CDs they purchase from the online megaretailer.

Amazon said the new, free service called AutoRip will initially feature more than 50,000 albums. In addition, any album purchased from Amazon since 1998 and is covered under AutoRip will be included.

When a customer buys a CD that is part of AutoRip, a digital file of the album will be added to his or her Amazon Cloud Player library. The digital version can then be played on a computer, tablet or smartphone using the Amazon Cloud Player app, as well as downloaded to those devices.

Herbalife attacks claims by hedge fund manager

Herbalife came out swinging Thursday against claims made by hedge fund manager William Ackman that the business amounts to a pyramid scheme.

But Ackman didn’t back down, saying in a statement that Herbalife “distorted, mischaracterized, and outright ignored large portions” of Pershing Square Capital Management’s December presentation.

A series of Herbalife’s executives looked to refute Ackman’s allegations during an analyst and investor meeting earlier in the day, laying out everything from how the business operates to who its customers are.

Critics have questioned the company’s business model, which uses a network of distributors to sell its nutritional supplements and weight-loss products in more than 80 countries.

— From news service reports