Viking cruise line opens U.S. branch in New Orleans

European river cruise giant Viking announced Tuesday that it will make its first North American home port in New Orleans, with Mississippi River cruises expected in 2017.

The move means hundreds of jobs and a boost to the city’s tourism industry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at a news conference with Viking River Cruises officials.

The company, which runs tours in Europe and Asia and has expanded rapidly in the past few years, plans to build six boats over three years – each capable of hosting up to 300 passengers for the new American cruises.

In New Orleans, the boats will dock near the French Quarter. Cruises will head north to Memphis, St. Louis and St. Paul, Minnesota, depending on the season.

JPMorgan cost-cutting plan includes closing 300 banks

JPMorgan Chase plans to close 300 bank branches over the next two years, about 5 percent of the total, as more customers move online and the bank seeks to cut costs.

The closures are part of a $1.4 billion cost-cutting plan the bank announced for this year. The latest developments were revealed during the bank’s annual investor day conference Tuesday.

Online and mobile banking have become increasingly popular and that trend is expected to continue. The shift online has begun to make brick-and-mortar branches staffed full of tellers less necessary and, frankly, expensive.

Goodyear settles charges it bribed African officials

Goodyear will pay about $16 million to settle federal regulators’ charges that it failed to prevent persistent bribery in Kenya and Angola aimed at winning tire sales.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., one of the world’s biggest tire makers. The SEC said Goodyear’s subsidiaries in the African countries paid more than $3.2 million in bribes to employees of government-owned and private companies, and to local officials. The agency says that the bribes, paid “routinely” from 2007 through 2011, were falsely recorded as legitimate expenses.

–From news service reports