Prime Motor Group sells off two of its Saco dealerships

The owner of Prime Motor Group has sold the company’s Kia and Nissan car dealerships on Route 1 in Saco to Bill Waldron, owner of Portland Volvo.

Ira Rosenberg, Prime’s owner, said the Nissan deal has already closed, and he expects the Kia dealership will officially transfer to Waldron in the next few days.

Rosenberg declined to discuss the financials of the deal. Waldron, who bought Jolly John Auto City last year, could not be reached for comment.

Rosenberg, 74, said his age is part of the reason he sold the dealerships. “I am going to be 75. I am too old to have too many dealerships,” he said.

Rosenberg said he enjoyed dealing with Waldron during the sale. “I wish them lots of luck with the new franchises,” he said.

Prime Motor Group still sells cars made by Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen.

Despite defiant words, Bartz resigns as a Yahoo director

Carol Bartz has resigned from the Yahoo board of directors that she blasted for firing her as the company’s CEO last week.

The resignation reversed a defiant stance that Bartz took in a fiery interview published Sept. 8 on Fortune magazine’s website. At the time, Bartz said she intended to retain her seat on Yahoo’s board even though she considered her fellow directors to be “doofuses.”

Bartz, 63, resigned from the board Sept. 9, according to an email from board spokesman Charles Sipkins. Yahoo Inc. had previously said that Bartz was obligated to resign after her ouster as CEO.

McGraw-Hill Cos. restructures, hoping to prop up stock price

McGraw-Hill Cos. will split into two public companies, with one focused on education and the other centered on markets, featuring its Standard & Poor’s unit.

The decision, which has been expected, follows a yearlong review of the company’s business. Investors have pushed the New York company to boost its stock price, which has dropped by more than 40 percent since 2006.

The company’s S&P ratings agency has been under fire for its recent downgrade of U.S. debt, as well as several bad calls that it made leading up to the financial crisis and economic meltdown in 2008.

McGraw-Hill Education will be the new company focused on education services and digital learning, while McGraw-Hill Markets will retain S&P and J.D. Power and Associates, a market research company.

Buffett hires fund manager as he lines up successors

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has hired Ted Weschler to help oversee the company’s investment portfolio, and may add another fund manager as the firm prepares a new generation of leaders.

Weschler, 50, has told limited partners at his Charlottesville, Va.-based Peninsula Capital Advisors that he will be departing and will join Berkshire early next year, Buffett’s company said Monday.

Berkshire plans to divide Buffett’s responsibilities as chief investment officer among as many as three money managers. Buffett, 81, last year announced the hiring of hedge-fund manager Todd Combs.

Corn crop damaged by heat may boost 2012 food prices

Food prices could rise next year because an unseasonably hot summer likely damaged much of this year’s corn crop.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Monday that 672 million bushels of corn will be left over at the end of summer. The estimated surplus is down from last month’s forecast and well below levels that are considered healthy.

“We just didn’t have a good growing year,” said Jason Ward, an analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. “It was too hot, too warm, too dry at the wrong time.”

The price of corn was relatively unchanged Monday at $7.33 a bushel. While that’s down from its peak of $7.99 reached in June, it’s still nearly twice the price paid last summer.

Government to start testing for seven strains of E. coli

For years, government officials have tested meat for only one strain of E. coli. Now they will test for seven, a move that will hasten recalls of infected meat.

The meat industry has been required for 17 years to test for the common O157:H7 strain of the pathogen. But other strains of E. coli have increasingly been found in food in recent years, causing an estimated 110,000 illnesses annually.

Food safety advocates and meat industry representatives briefed on the decision say the meat companies will begin testing beef trimmings in March and may later expand to ground beef and other meats. The USDA is expected to announce the new tests today.

More economists scale back growth outlook for 2011, ’12

Confronted with an economy that has decidedly underperformed this year, economists are scaling back their growth forecasts for 2011 and next year.

In their latest forecast, top economists with the National Association for Business Economics predict that the economy will grow 1.7 percent this year, down from the group’s May prediction of 2.8 percent expansion. For 2012, the group is forecasting growth of 2.3 percent, compared with a May forecast of 3.2 percent growth.

The new survey, released Monday, is in line with the outlook of other economists.