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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Verizon preps bid for Verizon Wireless, IBM chief scolds employees, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
Verizon Communications currently owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless.
Verizon Communications currently owns 55 percent of Verizon Wireless. Eric Thayer/Getty Images

1. VERIZON MAY SPEND $100 BILLION ON VERIZON
Verizon Communications is aiming to take full control of Verizon Wireless from Vodafone — for $100 billion, according to new reports. Verizon, which currently owns a 55 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, has reportedly hired bankers and lawyers to prepare a stock and cash bid, which if successful, will land them full control of the U.S.' largest wireless network. Verizon's shares are up 1.9 percent today. Vodafone is up 3 percent. [USA Today]
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2. EXXON REPORTS PROFITS — BARELY
The world's largest publicly traded oil company reported $9.5 billion in profits, or $2.12 a share. The numbers slightly beat last year's first quarter earnings, but analysts attribute the gains to a large stock buyback that reduced the total number of outstanding shares by 5 percent — indeed, total oil and gas production declined by 3.5 percent. Higher earnings from its chemical division also helped offset losses.  [New York Times]
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3. IBM CHIEF REPRIMANDS EMPLOYEES FOR WEAK QUARTER
Following last week's dismal earnings report, IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty delivered a company wide reprimand, demanding employees "move faster and respond more quickly to customers," says The Wall Street Journal. She delivered the message via a five-minute video-speech directed at the company's 434,000 employees, in which she blamed the weak first quarter on the sales staff, even calling out a specific pitch for a major client in the retail industry which employees failed to close. She also conceded: "Our performance reminds us that there are profound shifts under way in our industry, and when we move to the new high value spaces we do well." [Wall Street Journal]
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4. UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS TAKE A DIVE
The number of Americans filing unemployment claims fell by a surprising 16,000 last week, possibly signaling an end to the so-called "spring swoon" (a three-year trend where economic activity softens in March and early April). Though the news helped propel stocks slightly higher on Wall Street, some warn against drawing conclusions about economic recovery based on this data. "Claims are a poor guide to payrolls right now," Ian Shepherdson, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors in White Plains, N.Y., said. [Reuters]
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5. PUNKY BREWSTER RAISES $2.5 MILLION FOR NEW MOBILE APP
Soleil Moon Frye, the actress who played Punky Brewster on the eponymous 1980s TV show, has raised $2.5 million in venture capital for her company Moonfrye, a mom/kid focused brand that already has 1.5 million Twitter followers and a clothing line for Target. The company is currently working on a mobile app for parents looking for do-it-yourself projects to do with their kids. The main backing comes from GRP Partners, with Google Ventures, Greycroft Partners and Daher capital investing as well. [Fortune]

Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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