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Delta eyes bigger slice of NYC-London market

MINNEAPOLIS – The skies between London and New York are full of business travelers, and Delta Air Lines wants more of them.

Delta is looking into buying a big stake in Virgin Atlantic, the second-biggest airline at London’s Heathrow airport. New York to London is one of the world’s most important travel routes, and Delta currently flies fewer flights to Heathrow than its main U.S. competitors, American and United.

On Monday, Singapore Airlines said it is in discussions with “interested parties” to sell its 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic. A person with knowledge of the talks told the Associated Press that Delta is in talks with Singapore Airlines about buying the Virgin Atlantic stake. The person requested anonymity because the talks are ongoing. The Singapore Airlines statement said the talks may or may not result in a deal.

The New York-London route is especially important for Delta, because the biggest single destination from Heathrow is New York’s John F. Kennedy, where Delta has a hub. Delta is spending $1.2 billion to improve its facilities there, and another $160 million at nearby LaGuardia.

Pfizer laying off part of U.S. sales force

NEW YORK – Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. is starting another round of layoffs, targeting U.S. sales representatives who promote Pfizer primary care medicines to doctors.

The New York-based Viagra maker isn’t giving details on how many salespeople it employs, how many will leave or when that will happen. Individual salespeople haven’t been notified whether they’ll be furloughed.

A Pfizer spokesman confirms changes are coming but says details about the sales force are proprietary.

ADM raises offer for GrainCorp buyout

NEW YORK – Agribusiness conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland Co. is increasing its buyout offer for GrainCorp by almost 4 percent and disclosed it has already added to its stake in the Australian grain handler.

Under the revised bid disclosed Monday, it would cost ADM about $2.33 billion to buy the rest of the Australian company.

ADM said it owns 19.9 percent of GrainCorp Ltd., up from 14.9 percent when it made its first acquisition bid in October.

ADM has said it wants to invest in overseas suppliers. Australia is a major exporter of many commodities, from minerals such as iron ore to agricultural goods like wheat.

Facebook opens vote on user voting policy

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook is getting out the vote – on whether users can continue to vote on policy changes at the giant social network.

Voting started Monday and will last seven days.

Unless 30 percent of Facebook’s 1 billion-plus users cast their ballots, users will lose their right to vote. Critics say Facebook has set an impossibly high bar by requiring such a large percentage of its users to vote for the vote to count.

In a blog post, Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, encouraged Facebook users to exercise their right to vote.

Facebook users can also let Facebook know what they think of other proposals, such as sharing user data with its subsidiary Instagram and loosening restrictions on who can send users messages on Facebook.


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