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In brief: Wal-Mart announces new CEO, president

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is ushering in a changing of the guard as the world’s largest retailer confronts slower growth and challenges to its reputation.

Doug McMillon, 47, head of Wal-Mart’s international division, will succeed CEO and President Mike Duke, 63, when he steps down on Feb. 1 after five years in those roles. McMillon, a 23-year company veteran, will become the fifth CEO since Wal-Mart’s founder, Sam Walton.

The change at the top is indicative of a recent shift in strategy at the company best known for its cutthroat pricing and big box stores.

The move also is a testament to the company’s continued focus on its international division. McMillon, who started at the company in 1984 as a summer intern, left and came back in 1990 to work at a Wal-Mart store before holding several jobs, including a three-year stint as president and CEO of the Sam’s Club division.

J.C. Penney chief puts $1 million into stock

PLANO, Texas – J.C. Penney CEO Mike Ullman seems confident the slumping retailer will bounce back during the holiday shopping season.

Ullman showed his faith by buying 112,000 shares at $8.95 apiece at the end of last week. The $1 million investment disclosed Monday comes as Ullman tries to snap Penney out of a funk that has seen the Plano, Texas, company lose more than $2.4 billion since late 2011.

The financial misery prompted Penney to fire Ron Johnson in April and bring back Ullman for a second stint as its CEO.

Penney’s woes have caused the company’s stock to plunge by 53 percent so far this year. The shares closed at $9.19 Monday.

Things are so bad that the retailer is being booted from the S&P 500 index this Friday.

GE closes in on fix for engine ice chunks

General Electric said Monday that it is close to a solution for engines that are losing power for a few seconds after ingesting ice chunks as big as a half-gallon.

The problem came to light over the weekend after Japan Airlines said it will stop using its new Boeing 787s on some routes.

The problem has surfaced on about 400 GE engines used on some 787s and all Boeing 747-8s.

GE said it knows of six incidents since April where those engines lost thrust because of icing. The problem is that in some weather conditions, the engines take in ice crystals which then thaw and refreeze. Those ice chunks can grow to 2 to 4 pounds and eventually come loose and get sucked into the engine’s core.

GE said the engines lost power for about five seconds each time.

“If you were in the plane you wouldn’t even notice it,” GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said.

The plane’s owners noticed. The ice chunks damaged at least one engine on a 747-8 freighter, Kennedy said, but all quickly regained power and the planes were able to land at their planned airport.

Ratings firm Nielsen buys Harris Interactive

Consumer research and TV ratings firm Nielsen agreed to buy market research firm Harris Interactive for about $116.6 million, saying it will help it provide insights to customers.

Harris Interactive said Nielsen agreed to pay $2 per share, but the price may change. The per-share amount is 4 percent below Harris Interactive Inc.’s $2.08 Friday closing price.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter.


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