July 24, 2013

Briefcase

- The Bank of Maine set to sell branches to Machias Savings

The Bank of Maine has reached an agreement to sell six of its branches in the northern part of the state to Machias Savings Bank.

The transaction affects branches in Caribou, Fort Kent, Houlton, Lincoln, Mars Hill and Presque Isle, with a total of $75 million in deposits as of the end of June. Machias Savings Bank said it will close the branches in Fort Kent, Houlton and Mars Hill.

The sale is subject to the approval of state banking regulators. Bank of Maine's chief executive said the sale would allow the bank to focus on its remaining branches in central and southern Maine.

Machias Savings Bank's CEO said the sale is a natural expansion of the company's existing footprint.

BIW receives extra funding for USS Independence work

Bath Iron Works has received a $7.5 million modification to an existing contract to provide engineering and design services for work on the USS Independence, a littoral combat ship.

The ship is designed to be used in shallow waters.

The work will largely be done at a General Dynamics facility in San Diego under a separate contract, Bath Iron Works said.

Ford, Toyota end joint work on pickup and SUV hybrids

Ford Motor Co., which has been gaining on hybrid car sales leader Toyota Motor Corp., said Tuesday it will end a partnership with Japan's largest automaker to develop gasoline-electric systems for pickups and sport-utility vehicles.

Ford is on track to bring its rear-wheel-drive hybrid system to market later this decade, Raj Nair, the company's product development chief, said by telephone. Toyota and Michigan-based Ford mutually agreed to end their collaboration after the research and development phase, he said.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Toyota President Akio Toyoda personally negotiated the partnership before the two automakers made the collaboration public in August 2011. Since then, Ford has boosted sales of hybrid and plug-in versions of the Fusion sedan and the C-Max wagon in the U.S. to challenge Toyota, whose Prius has dominated the hybrid market for more than a decade.

Ford and Toyota will continue to work jointly on standards for in-car technology and communication systems, Nair said.

Mexico reports doubling of illegal taps in fuel pipelines

The number of illegal taps drilled into Mexican oil and gas pipelines to steal fuel has doubled so far in 2013, one of the few crime-related statistics that the administration of new President Enrique Pena Nieto says has grown since he took office in December. Authorities said Tuesday that the reason for the reported rise remains unclear, but there are some indications that the country is seeing a thriving industry centered around stealing and selling fuel in Mexico, and even exporting it.

Mexico's state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, said 1,421 illegal fuel taps have been discovered in the first six months of this year, almost twice the 722 taps uncovered in the same period of 2012.

Thieves made off with the equivalent of 2.7 million barrels of fuel, equal to more than one day of the company's annual oil output. The company has estimated that such thefts cost it about $5 billion a year.

Losses grow for RadioShack as income tops expectations

RadioShack said Tuesday that its second-quarter loss widened as the electronics retailer works to revamp its stores and product assortment ahead of the crucial holiday season.

Although the loss was bigger than analysts expected, revenue beat expectations and the company said it was bringing on consultants to help improve results.

RadioShack has been cutting costs, shuffling management and updating stores and product selection to battle competition from online retailers and discount stores that have expanded their electronics offerings.

Revenue results indicate the turnaround might be gaining traction in its early stages.

Revenue was nearly flat at $844.5 million, handily beating analysts' expectations of $816.1 million in revenue, according to FactSet. Net loss for the three months ended June 30 totaled $53.1 million, or 53 cents per share. That compares with a net loss of $21 million, or 21 cents per share, last year. The loss is more than double the loss of 24 cents per share that analysts expected.

Shares fell 15 cents, or 5.1 percent, to close at $2.78 Tuesday.

--From staff and news services

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