Business news in brief

Posted: November 9, 2017 at 2:03 a.m.
Updated: November 9, 2017 at 2:03 a.m.

Developer backs out of Conway project

A developer spearheading a planned multimillion-dollar, mixed-use project off Interstate 40 in Conway has backed out.

Jim Wilson & Associates' withdrawal from developing the site, once home to the city's municipal airport, came as the Conway Development Corp. sought to close on the $6.1 million land deal, according to an official with the organization.

The Montgomery, Ala.-based real-estate company's departure from its Central Landing proposal was first reported Tuesday by the Log Cabin Democrat.

Jamie Gates, executive vice president of the Conway Development Corp., said Wednesday that discussions are ongoing regarding a potential new partner or developer at the 151-acre site.

Gates did not name that developer, citing a "due-diligence period."

He said two factors weighed on the real estate firm: the timeline for completion of infrastructure improvements and shifts away from the traditional retail framework.

-- Brandon Riddle

Windstream reports 3Q earnings today

Windstream will release third-quarter earnings report today before the market opens, the Little Rock firm said.

Management will discuss the report in a conference call at 7:30 a.m. The call can be accessed by dialing (877) 374-3977 and providing the identification code 9976-1593.

-- David Smith

Wal-Mart favors male workers, suit says

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is being sued again by a group of women who say they faced gender discrimination while working for the world's biggest retailer.

In the complaint filed Monday in federal court in Florida, the defendants say they were denied opportunities for promotion and weren't paid on a par with male colleagues in both hourly retail store positions and certain salaried management positions. Many of the women started working at the retailer in the 1990s. They seek class-action status.

The case is part of the legacy of Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a 2001 suit representing 1.6 million female employees that claimed the company had a pattern of discriminating against women in promotion, pay, training and job assignment.

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision to grant class certification and imposed revised guidelines for class actions related to employment discrimination.

"The class the plaintiffs now allege is no more appropriate than the nationwide class the Supreme Court has already rejected," Randy Hargrove, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said.

The seven plaintiffs in the latest case, Forbes v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., were members of the national class originally certified in Dukes. Addressing the Supreme Court's revised guidelines, the complaint focuses on allegations of workers in the southeastern U.S.

-- Bloomberg News

Ford, China's Zotye in electric-car deal

BEIJING -- Ford Motor Co. announced Wednesday that it is launching a venture with a Chinese partner to develop electric vehicles for sale in China, the biggest market for the technology. The announcement of the $750 million venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co. adds to rising investment by global automakers in China's growing electric-vehicle industry.

Zotye already has its own electric-vehicle business and said sales in the first 10 months of the year were up 14 percent over a year earlier, at 22,500.

Sales of pure-electric and gasoline-electric hybrids in China rose 50 percent last year over 2015 to 336,000 vehicles, or 40 percent of global demand. U.S. sales totaled 159,620.

Beijing has supported sales with subsidies and a planned quota system that would require automakers to produce electric cars or buy credits from companies that do.

Ford said it expects China's market for all-electrics and hybrids to grow to annual sales of 6 million by 2025. The company said previously that it plans to offer electric versions of 70 percent of its models sold in China by 2025.

-- The Associated Press

Ample oil trims price despite fire in Gulf

Crude went on a roller-coaster ride Wednesday as platform closures in the Gulf of Mexico led futures to spike, while the stubborn increase in U.S. supplies pulled prices back down.

Oil closed 0.7 percent lower in New York after alternating between gains and losses in the session. Multiple platforms in the Gulf of Mexico suspended operations after Royal Dutch Shell PLC shut its Enchilada-Salsa platform because of a fire. While the shutdowns caused shortages, the prevailing mood was set by a government report showing crude stockpiles unexpectedly rose last week, overseas demand shrank and U.S. output hit a record high.

On Tuesday, OPEC said U.S. shale output will continue to grow and may not max out until the middle of the next decade. ConocoPhillips announced a surprise 22 percent increase in next year's drilling budget, the latest signal that U.S. output may not ebb any time soon.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 11/09/2017