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Business news in brief

AT&T merger talks urged before Nov. 23

The U.S. Justice Department is encouraging AT&T Inc. to address antitrust officials' concerns about the $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. before the Nov. 23 Thanksgiving holiday or face a lawsuit to block the deal, people familiar with the matter said.

The Justice Department wants to keep AT&T, the biggest U.S. satellite-TV provider, from gaining Time Warner cable networks like TNT and CNN and then withholding their programming from competitors such as Comcast Corp., the people said. AT&T has said it has no incentive to do that. But the Justice Department prefers that AT&T either sell Time Warner's Turner division, which owns TNT and CNN, or divest its DirecTV satellite unit to address the issue.

Representatives for AT&T, Time Warner and the Justice Department declined to comment.

The proposed tie-up would reshape the media landscape by uniting the biggest pay-TV distributor with the owner of CNN, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS and HBO. It represents the Justice Department's first major antitrust test under President Donald Trump, who as a candidate criticized the combination for consolidating too much power in one company and has repeatedly called CNN's coverage of his administration "fake news."

-- Bloomberg News

Missouri AG probing Google practices

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Missouri's attorney general announced Monday that his office is investigating Google for potential violations of the state's consumer-protection and antitrust laws.

Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley's office is checking into what Google does with the user information it collects and allegations that it inappropriately scrapes information from competitors' websites.

It's also looking into allegations that the company manipulates search results to favor its own websites over competitors', which has been the subject of recent scrutiny in Europe. Google spokesman Patrick Lenihan said the company has not yet received a subpoena.

Federal regulators in the U.S. also have investigated the company over antitrust claims, but Google settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 without making any major concessions on how the company runs its Internet search engine. Federal regulators didn't find any reasons to impose radical changes.

-- The Associated Press

$14.8B bid for mall owner GGP's stock

Brookfield Property Partners LP bid about $14.8 billion to acquire the stake it doesn't already hold in U.S. mall owner GGP Inc. as the companies seek to repurpose struggling brick-and-mortar shopping centers.

The firm offered $23 a share for the 66 percent of GGP it doesn't own, Brookfield officials said in a statement Monday. That's about 21 percent more than Chicago-based GGP's closing price on Nov. 6, the day before Bloomberg News reported Brookfield had held discussions about taking the company private. GGP said in a separate statement that its board formed a special committee to review the unsolicited proposal.

Brookfield Property Partners is the real estate unit of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. Brookfield Asset has been focusing on buying and revamping shopping centers to take advantage of the land they occupy in urban areas.

-- Bloomberg News

Carbon emissions up 2%, experts say

People are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ever before, according to an international team of scientists.

An estimated 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide will be released this year, 2 percent more than 2016 and marking an end to a three-year hiatus in pollution growth driven by less-wasteful energy use that had given many people hope that emissions had peaked. The CO2 resurgence was caused mostly by China, which saw a rise in coal, oil and gas use this year.

The finding comes as diplomats in Bonn, Germany, this week etch details into the 2015 United Nations Paris climate agreement.

Carbon makes up only 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, but is a powerful heat-trapping gas and is the dominant cause of the rise in global temperatures. The five hottest years on record have happened since 2010, and 16 of the hottest 17 have occurred since 2000.

When deforestation is accounted for, 2017 should tie the 2015 CO2 record of about 41 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide released.

-- Bloomberg News

Parliament to get say in final Brexit deal

British officials say Parliament will be given a chance to vote on the final withdrawal agreement between Britain and the European Union.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told Parliament on Monday that the promised vote on an implementation bill means lawmakers will be able to scrutinize and oversee the Brexit process.

A key plank in the government's plans for leaving the EU is returning to the House of Commons today, so Davis' announcement was seen as a concession of sorts.

But Davis says if lawmakers reject the final deal, Britain still will leave the 28-nation EU bloc in March 2019 -- so the promise falls short of pro-EU legislators' demands.

The agreement will cover areas such as the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, the cost to Britain of leaving the EU, and any transition period for the withdrawal.

-- The Associated Press

Uber favors investors' stake in startup

Uber Technologies Inc. approved SoftBank Group Corp.'s offer to buy a multibillion-dollar stake in the ride-hailing company, setting the stage for one of the largest private startup share purchases ever.

The agreement lets SoftBank, the investment firm Dragoneer, and others invest at least $1 billion in Uber and proceed with a tender offer in coming weeks to buy up to $9 billion in shares from existing investors. The deal could still fall through if there aren't enough interested sellers. Several Uber governance changes hang on the transaction closing.

The pact gets Uber closer to clearing a hurdle as it tries to overcome a series of scandals, leadership turmoil and executive departures. SoftBank, a well-connected Japanese technology company, could help Uber strike deals with competitors in India or Southeast Asia. SoftBank is a major investor in Ola and Grab, Uber's rivals in those regions.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 11/14/2017

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