August 17, 2012 in Business

Avista appoints Sprague to lead government relations

From Staff And Wire Reports

A man who has managed Avista’s government relations in Washington state for 22 years has been tapped as the company’s overall director of government relations.

Collins Sprague will oversee all government, legislative, political and public policy activities, the Spokane energy company announced Thursday. He replaces Tom Paine, who retired in early August after more than three decades with the company.

Among Sprague’s accomplishments was helping secure passage of legislation that allows Avista to count its Kettle Falls biomass facility as a renewable energy source under Initiative I-937. In 2010, Sprague received the Ron Gjerde Award as the state’s best business lobbyist of the year.

Oil prices rise yet again on good news about housing

Oil prices rose for the third day in a row on Thursday as hopeful signs for U.S. housing suggested that oil demand could rise, too.

Applications for building permits rose to their highest level in four years, according to the Commerce Department. If housing is picking up, the economy could be, too, and that would tend to raise oil prices.

Benchmark oil for September delivery rose $1.27 to finish at $95.60 per barrel in New York. It’s now up almost 3 percent from $92.87 per barrel on Friday.

On Wednesday, oil rose 90 cents per barrel on an unexpectedly large drop in crude supplies. That’s another sign of stronger demand, which tends to drive up prices.

Increasing tensions between Israel and Iran have also been driving oil prices higher in recent weeks.

“Whenever somebody talks about blowing something up in the Middle East, it tends to make people nervous,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Mass.

Macy’s sues J.C. Penney over Martha Stewart deal

NEW YORK – Macy’s Inc. is suing rival retailer J.C. Penney Co., claiming Penney’s bid to sell products by Martha Stewart Living resulted in the breach of an exclusive contract held by Macy’s and could cost it potentially billions in sales.

Macy’s filed the lawsuit Thursday in the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

In the complaint, Macy’s claims that J.C. Penney entered into an unlawful contract with Martha Stewart Living to sell some of its home products at its stores starting next February.

Macy’s argues that the pact between Penney and Martha Stewart represents a breach of contract because Macy’s already has a deal in place with options to exclusively sell Martha Stewart goods through 2018.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order blocking the Penney-Martha Stewart deal.

Oracle will pay $2 million to settle SEC charges on India

WASHINGTON – Software maker Oracle Corp. has agreed to pay $2 million to settle federal civil charges of failing to prevent secret payments in its sales operations in India.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Thursday. The SEC said Oracle violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by allowing its Indian subsidiary to secretly set aside money that went to phony local vendors. Oracle ran the risk of the secret funds being used for bribes, the SEC said.

The agency said the violations occurred from 2005 to 2007. It said the subsidiary sold software licenses and services to the Indian government and kept some of the sale proceeds off Oracle’s books.

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