Business news briefs — Feb. 18

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LOCAL BUSINESS

Fracking program set

A free forum and panel discussion that looks at the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas and oil takes place Wednesday evening at Kent State University.

The program, Fracking: Promise or Peril starts at 7 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Kiva. It is open to the public.

Pulitzer Center journalist Dimeter Kenarov will talk about a reporting project he did on fracking in Poland. A panel discussion follows afterward that will be moderated by Mitch McKenney, assistant professor in the university’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Wednesday’s event is the inaugural of the journalism school’s Global Communications Issues Forum.

Software seminar scheduled

Akron information technology firm BCG Systems is holding a free webinar from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to preview new Microsoft software, Dynamics GP 2013.

The webinar, Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 Preview: Take Command of Your Business, is aimed at what BCG calls business and technology decision makers. The program will look at some of the 149 new features in the software and cover the intricacies of the licensing model.

Attendees get an hour of CPE credit. To register, call 800-968-6661 or go online to www.bcgsystems.com/dynamics-gp-2013.

PUBLISHING

Woes at Reader’s Digest

The parent company of Reader’s Digest has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in less than four years, saying it needs to cut its debt so it can keep restructuring. RDA Holding Co. said it plans to cut its debt load by 80 percent during the restructuring, leaving it with about $100 million in debt.

BEVERAGES

Bourbon firm stops plan

After backlash from customers, the producer of Maker’s Mark bourbon is reversing a decision to cut the amount of alcohol in bottles of its famous whiskey. Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark’s chief operating officer, said it is restoring the alcohol volume of its product to its historic level of 45 percent, or 90 proof. Last week, it said it was lowering the amount to 42 percent, or 84 proof, because of a supply shortage.

ENERGY

Germany studies fracking

The German government is assessing the environmental impact of extracting natural gas via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” and could pass laws on the matter this year, said federal environment minister Peter Altmaier. Legislation that could be passed before the Sept. 22 federal election will probably incorporate a ban on fracking in water conservancy areas, said the Christian Democrat in a YouTube video. Feasibility studies are also assessing whether to ban the process in highly populated areas, he said. Whether fracking will be legal in Germany is “open,” said Altmaier.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Nissan to research self-driving

Nissan opened a research center in California’s Silicon Valley that the Japanese carmaker plans to make its hub for research on self-driving vehicles and Internet-connected auto technology. The facility will be staffed by more than 60 engineers and technicians within three years, said Carla Bailo, Nissan’s senior vice president for North American research and development. Work on so-called autonomous vehicle systems will move from an R&D center in Japan to Sunnyvale, Calif., she said.

FOOD

Nestle removes products

Nestle SA, the world’s largest food company with prepared foods operations in Solon, is withdrawing some beef ravioli and beef tortellini products and suspended deliveries after food tested positive for horse DNA.

Nestle is removing the chilled pasta foods in Italy and Spain immediately and replacing them with 100 percent beef products. Nestle has for now also stopped all deliveries of products with beef from H.J. Schypke, a subcontractor of Nestle supplier JBS Toledo NV.

A statement said, “There is no food safety issue, but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us.”

Nestle is the latest food company in Europe to be engulfed by the horse meat scandal that started in Ireland in mid-January. Retailers have withdrawn products such as frozen beef burgers, lasagnas and meatballs and the European Union has ordered immediate testing for equine DNA in beef products and the veterinary drug phenylbutazone in horse meat.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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