Barnes & Noble, Google adding apps for Nooks

Barnes & Noble is teaming up with Google to vastly increase the number of apps available on its Nook HD tablets.

The bookstore chain says it will add Google’s Play app store to its 7-inch Nook HD and 9-inch HD+ products in the U.S. and U.K. via a software update Friday.

The move expands the number of apps available from the roughly 10,000 the Nook already offered in its own store — such as Angry Birds and Netflix — to 700,000-plus apps and games offered on Google Play. And it comes after a weak holiday sales season for the Nook, which is struggling to gain market share in the expanding tablet market.

CEO William Lynch said research and sales during the holidays show that consumer preference is shifting toward all-purpose tablets rather than simple e-readers.

Occidental Petroleum ousts highly paid CEO

The chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corp., who drew criticism over his compensation as CEO, is out.

Ray R. Irani will step down and be replaced by a former diplomat, Occidental announced Friday after its annual meeting in Los Angeles. Shareholders cast their shares against him by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

Irani was chairman and CEO from 1990 to 2011 and became executive chairman in May 2011.

Occidental said that Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria, will replace Irani.

Berkshire Hathaway sees profits soar by 51 percent

Berkshire Hathaway’s first-quarter profit jumped 51 percent as its insurance companies performed well and the value of its investments soared.

Warren Buffett’s firm said Friday it earned $4.89 billion, or $2,977 per Class A share. That’s up from last year’s $3.25 billion net income, or $1,966 per Class A share.

The Omaha-based conglomerate said its revenue grew 15 percent to $43.87 billion over last year’s $38.15 billion. The earnings report was released as thousands of Berkshire shareholders were gathering in Omaha for Saturday’s annual meeting.

Berkshire officials don’t generally comment on quarterly earnings reports, and no one responded to a message Friday about the first-quarter results. But Buffett will likely discuss the earnings report briefly at Saturday’s annual meeting.

Firm logo tattoo pays off for brokerage workers

Getting tattooed with the company logo is all the rage at one New York City brokerage firm.

The reward? A 15 percent pay raise.

The CEO of Rapid Realty NYC says about 40 employees have gotten inked with the logo in the past two years.

Anthony Lolli says workers are “passionate about the brand.”

They also may be passionate about the extra 15 percent in commission they get for sporting a tattoo.

Lolli started the policy a year and a half ago after one employee got the tattoo to prove his company loyalty.

Casinos brace for impact of Internet gambling

With legal gambling now moving beyond the casinos and onto the Internet, the industry is bracing for the most far-reaching changes in its history.

A Las Vegas firm, Ultimate Gaming, on Tuesday became the first in the U.S. to offer online poker, restricting it, for now, to players in Nevada. New Jersey and Delaware also have legalized gambling over the Internet.

And many inside and outside the industry say the recent position taken by the federal government that states are free to offer Internet gambling — as long as it doesn’t involve sports betting — will lead many cash-hungry state governments to turn to the Web as a new source of tax revenue.

Algerian man charged in bank fraud conspiracy

An Algerian man has pleaded not guilty to helping develop and market a computer program that drained millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world.

A 23-count indictment charges 24-year-old Hamza Bendelladj with wire fraud, bank fraud, computer fraud and conspiracy. He was extradited from Thailand and arraigned Friday afternoon in federal court in Atlanta. It’s unclear if Bendelladj has a lawyer.

Bendelladj is accused of being involved in a conspiracy to develop and sell SpyEye. The program is a banking Trojan, which was implanted onto computers to harvest financial information and drain bank accounts. The program impacted 253 financial institutions.

U.S. Attorney Sally Yates says Bendelladj leased a server from an unidentified Internet company in Atlanta to control computers.

A second person is named in the indictment but has not been identified.

EU predicts recession will continue in 2013

Europe will take longer to recover from its economic crisis as it tackles a worse-than-expected recession in the eurozone and unemployment at record levels, the European Union warned Friday.

In its spring economic forecast, the E.U. said gross domestic product in the 17 member countries that use the euro will shrink by 0.4 percent this year, better than the 0.6 percent contraction in 2012 but 0.1 percentage points worse than the E.U. had forecast back in February.

The report also had bad news for the wider 27-country E.U.: it now expects the region’s economy to shrink by 0.1 percent in 2013, against a forecast of 0.1 percent growth in February.

– From news service reports