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Today in business: 5 things you need to know
Vodafone says Verizon bid is too low, Soros hoards JC Penney's shares, and more in our roundup of the business stories that are making news and driving opinion
 
George Soros just bought a massive stake in the forever-struggling JC Penney.
George Soros just bought a massive stake in the forever-struggling JC Penney. ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

1. VERIZON'S POSSIBLE $100 BILLION OFFER ABOUT $30 BILLION SHORT
Verizon's potential $100 billion bid to buy the remaining 45 percent of Verizon Wireless from Vodafone might be about $30 billion short, say people familiar with the deal. Vodafone has publicly voiced concerns that a $100 billion sale could land them with a $20 billion tax bill, but Verizon has disputed that claim just as publicly. The Wall Street Journal reports that "by publicly disagreeing with that view, Verizon was effectively appealing directly to Vodafone's shareholders in the hope they will pressure Vodafone's board and chief executive, Vittorio Colao, to come to the negotiating table." Negotiations have not yet officially started. [Wall Street Journal]
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2. GDP GROWTH MISSES EXPECTATIONS, WALL STREET DIPS SLIGHTLY
Gross domestic profit rose by 2.5 percent in the first quarter, said a report from the Commerce Department out today, missing expectations of 3 percent. Some fear the expiration of the payroll tax cut and automatic budget cuts from earlier this year limited consumer spending, and stocks slipped slightly as a result. In early trading the S&P was down 44 points, the Nasdaq fell 12 points, and the Dow rose 16 points. [Reuters, WSJ]
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3. GEORGE SOROS BUYS 17.4 MILLION SHARES OF JC PENNEY
Legendary investor George Soros disclosed a 7.9 percent stake in JC Penney Thursday, causing the plagued company's shares to jump 7 percent in after hours trading. The stake is passive, meaning Soros will not try to influence decision making at the company. William A. Ackman, the head of Pershing Square Capital Management, owns a 17.8 percent stake in Penney and continues to herald the retailer's turn-around. "I don't see a scenario in which we don't work this thing out," he reportedly said earlier this month.  [New York Times]
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4. NEW YORK FIRM BUYS LARGE CHUNK OF LOS ANGELES SKYLINE
Brookfield Office Properties, based in Manhattan, is paying $430 million for four of the tallest buildings in Los Angeles, including the Gas Company Tower and the Wells Fargo Tower. The deal will bring the debt-strapped MPG Office Trust Inc., one of Los Angeles's most prominent office developers, to a close, while expanding Brookfield's Los Angeles properties up to seven office buildings. The Los Angeles Times calls it "one of the biggest shake-ups of the downtown commercial real estate market in decades." [Los Angeles Times]
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5. BIG TOBACCO IS INVESTING IN E-CIGARETTES
Altria, the world's biggest tobacco company, announced plans to roll out its own brand of e-cigarettes Thursday, jumping on an existing trend of Big Tobacco investing in the battery-powered "smokes." The announcement follows a 6.2 percent industry-wide slide in cigarette sales in Q1, and comes as Congress is discussing another big tax-hike on cigarettes (94 cents this time). Meanwhile, sales of e-cigarettes are doubling. [ABC]

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

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