A Good Friday, a Lofty Plane Deal

Consumers step up to launch the holiday shopping season with a moderate bang. Airbus has a good day in China, selling 160 planes. And Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto attempts to fend off an unsolicited $128 billion takeover bid.


Black Friday not blue for retailers

U.S. shoppers spent a “very strong” $10.3 billion on Friday, a better-than-expected 8.3 percent increase over last Black Friday, according to ShopperTrak. Black Friday usually accounts for at least 5 percent of all holiday sales. (MarketWatch) Online purchases also rose 29 percent on Thanksgiving and 22 percent on Friday, compared with last year. The Retail Federation of America, meanwhile, said that 147 million people went shopping over the weekend, a 4.8 percent bump over last year. But at $347.44 a person, each shopper spent 3.5 percent less. “Shoppers are very mission-focused,” said Fred Crawford at AlixPartners LLP. “They know who is carrying what, and at what price point.” (Bloomberg)

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Airbus scores China deal

Airbus secured contracts to sell 160 aircraft to China today, in a deal worth about $14.8 billion. The 160 planes pad what is already shaping up to be a banner year for Airbus, as it surpasses both its 2005 record of 1,111 orders and rival Boeing’s record 2007 sales of 1,047 planes. (AP in Yahoo! Finance) The deal is Airbus’ largest by volume, but the weak dollar is chipping away at the profitability of sales—Airbus sells in dollars but spends largely in euros. (Reuters) France’s Areva SA also inked a record $11.9 billion deal today to build two nuclear reactors in China. Areva is bidding against Westinghouse to build up to 26 Chinese reactors by 2020. (Bloomberg)

Rio Tinto will not go quietly

Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto said it will raise stock dividends by 30 percent this year and sell up to $30 billion in assets as it fends off an unsolicited $128 billion takeover bid from rival BHP Billiton. It will also invest $2.4 billion in two iron mines to at least double iron ore output by 2018. Rio Tinto wants to “ensure they are in a better position for when the eventual discussion takes place for the groups to merge,” said Paul Xiradis at Ausbil Dexia in Sydney. (Bloomberg) Chinese sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp. denied local press reports that it is mounting a $200 billion rival bid for Rio Tinto, in conjunction with Chinese steelmakers. (MarketWatch)

Redefining Success?

The magazine Success, which has failed repeatedly since its founding in 1891, is relaunching again, under the ownership of Dallas-based direct-marketing firm VideoPlus. VideoPlus bought it from publisher Joseph Guerriero, whose company threw in the towel in 2006, after just five issues. VideoPlus says the magazine will succeed this time by focusing on personal development. Samir Husni, the head of the University of Mississippi’s journalism department, isn’t so sure. “The Chinese have a saying that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result every time is the definition of insanity,” he says. (The New York Times, free registration required)

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