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Business news in brief

February 27, 2019 at 1:47 a.m.
U.S. Deputy Assistant secretary for Cyber and International Communications and Information Policy Robert Strayer, right, and Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, centre, attend a press conference at the Mobile World Congress wireless show, in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) runs from 25-28 February in Barcelona, where companies from all over the world gather to share new products. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Environmental firm plans Denver office

North Little Rock-based environmental consulting firm CTEH is expanding to Colorado, the company said Tuesday.

Derek Drechsel and Tami McMullin will lead the new Denver office.

CTEH was formerly known as the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health.

"From its beginnings as an emergency response company more than 20 years ago, CTEH has significantly expanded its services and presence," said John Kind, principal toxicologist and senior vice president of CTEH's Health Sciences Division. "We are excited to open this office and bring our internationally-recognized, crisis-tested expertise to Colorado."

CTEH provides emergency response, environmental data collection and management and safety consulting for the public and private sectors.

Besides its headquarters in North Little Rock, CTEH has offices in Denver; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Indianapolis; Jackson, Miss.; New Orleans; Portland, Ore.; San Antonio; San Diego; Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; and Seattle.

The company has more than 160 employees nationwide.

-- David Smith

Union sues GM over 3 plant closures

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The United Auto Workers on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against General Motors over the closings of three plants in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland, claiming the union's current contract forbids the company from idling them.

GM announced plans in November to end production at U.S. plants in Lordstown, Ohio; White Marsh, Md.; Warren, Mich.; and Hamtramck, Mich. GM announced this week that production at the Hamtramck plant, which borders Detroit, would continue until January, after the UAW contract expires. The plant was not included in the lawsuit.

The UAW's lawsuit includes a September 2015 letter from GM Vice President Catherine Clegg that says her correspondence "confirms" the company won't close, idle, sell off or consolidate plants during the union contract, which expires in September.

GM said in a statement Tuesday that the company's announcement last year about the closings doesn't violate the UAW contract.

-- The Associated Press

Car-Mart opens 13th Texas dealership

Bentonville-based America's Car-Mart has opened a new car dealership in Tyler, Texas, the company said Tuesday.

It's the buy-here, pay-here used-car dealer's 13th lot in Texas and the fifth location it's opened this fiscal year, according to a release.

Last week, when it reported earnings for its fiscal third quarter, Car-Mart said it planned on opening dealerships in Conway and Bryant, as well as in Chattanooga, Tenn., and in Tyler. At the time, the company reported a profit of $10.9 million, or $1.55 per share, for the quarter ending Jan. 31, and revenue of $161 million.

Car-Mart now runs 144 dealerships in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Car-Mart shares closed at $82.20, down $1.06 or a little over 1 percent in trading Tuesday on the Nasdaq. Shares have traded as high as $100.75 and as low as $47.59 over the past year.

-- John Magsam

Wal-Mart India taking phone payments

Walmart Inc.'s wholesale business in India is now accepting payments made with PhonePe. The digital payments platform is owned by the Flipkart Group, in which Walmart has a majority stake.

Walmart India serves mainly small neighborhood retailers through its 23 Best Price outlets in nine states. According to a Walmart news release, most owners of these mom-and-pop stores don't have debit or credit cards. PhonePe offers them a secure way to pay from their mobile phone in stores or when placing orders online.

PhonePe also stands to benefit from its introduction to the more than 1 million Best Price members. The collaboration will greatly accelerate PhonePe's progress toward its goal of growing offline transaction traffic, the release stated.

-- Serenah McKay

Wynn Resorts fined $20M on sex claims

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada gambling regulators fined casino mogul Steve Wynn's former company a record $20 million on Tuesday for failing to investigate claims of sexual misconduct made against him before he resigned a year ago.

The penalty against Wynn Resorts Ltd. ends an investigation that began after The Wall Street Journal reported that several women said the company founder harassed or assaulted them.

Wynn Resorts will keep its gambling license under the Nevada Gaming Commission settlement reached last month. The four current commissioners unanimously approved the fine.

"It's not about one man," said Commissioner Philip Pro, a former federal court judge. "It's about a failure of a corporate culture to effectively govern itself as it should."

The previous highest fine in state history was $5.5 million in 2014 against the sports betting and mobile gambling system company now known as CG Technology. It runs sports betting operations at several Las Vegas casinos.

-- The Associated Press

China halts shale drilling after quakes

The backlash against shale drilling in earthquake-prone regions -- a thorn in the side of U.S. energy companies for the past decade -- reached China this week after a series of temblors killed two people and reduced homes to rubble.

China's biggest oil and gas producer halted drilling in an area of the country's shale hub after three quakes on Sunday and Monday toppled nine houses and caused cracks in dams holding back five small reservoirs, according to the government website of Zigong city in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Twelve people were injured and nearly 11,000 homes were damaged, with losses pegged at about $2 million.

The incident spurred residents to gather at a government building to ask if increased shale drilling in the area was to blame, state-run China Central Television reported. The local government's Weibo account said protesters numbered about 1,000, including some calling for a ban on shale exploration. A unit of China National Petroleum Corp. was forced to suspend operations, although Zigong city said on its website that more research is necessary to determine whether the quakes were caused by shale activity.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 02/27/2019

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