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Business Highlights: Ghosn's Hopes, Amazon's MGM Acquisition

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Defiant Ghosn pins hopes on French probes to clear his name

BEIRUT: Fugitive ex-auto magnate Carlos Ghosn is campaigning to clear his name and hopes an upcoming hearing in Beirut with French investigators offers a chance to defend himself for the first time since his 2018 arrest in Japan. In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Ghosn addressed his legal troubles in Japan, France and the Netherlands, his brazen escape and his new reality in crisis-hit Lebanon. The former chairman of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance says he felt empathy for those now jailed or on trial for helping him. He calls them collateral damage in a top-level Japanese campaign against him. He describes his downfall, which sent shockwaves through the car industry, as like being hit by a bus.

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Amazon to buy MGM, studio behind James Bond and Shark Tank

NEW YORK: Online shopping giant Amazon is buying MGM, the movie and TV studio behind James Bond, Legally Blonde and Shark Tank, with the hopes of filling its video streaming service with more stuff to watch. Amazon is paying $8.45 billion for MGM, making it the companys second-largest acquisition after buying grocer Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion in 2017. The deal is the latest in the media industry thats aimed at boosting streaming services to compete against Netflix and Disney+. AT&T and Discovery announced last week that they would combine media companies, creating a powerhouse that includes HGTV, CNN, Food Network and HBO.

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Jeff Bezos says will pass baton to new Amazon CEO on July 5

NEW YORK: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has picked a date to step down as CEO. Bezos grew Amazon from an internet bookstore to an online shopping behemoth. He said Wednesday that Amazon executive Andy Jassy will take over the CEO role on July 5. Jassy currently runs the companys cloud-computing business. Bezos said it was exactly 27 years ago in 1994 on that date when Amazon was incorporated. Seattle-based Amazon first announced that Bezos was stepping down as CEO in February, but didnt provide a specific date. Bezos wont be going far: He will become executive chair of the company and focus on new products and initiatives.

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At least 2 Exxon board members lose seats in climate fight

NEW YORK: Exxon Mobils shareholders have voted to replace at least two of the companys 12 board members with directors who are seen as better suited to fight climate change. They new directors are expected to bolster Exxons finances and guide it through a transition to cleaner energy. The preliminary outcome of the vote was announced by the company after its annual shareholder meeting. The outcome represents a setback for Exxons leadership. It coincides with growing pressure on publicly traded companies to more urgently revamp their businesses to address what critics see as a intensifying global crisis.

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Stocks close modestly higher after choppy day on Wall Street

NEW YORK: U.S. stocks closed modestly higher Wednesday as investors continued to monitor the economic recovery and rising inflation. A variety of companies that rely on consumer spending made solid gains. Dicks Sporting Goods surged after reporting a jump in first-quarter sales and solid earnings as team sports returned. Urban Outfitters and Abercrombie & Fitch also made gains on similarly strong financial results. The S&P 500s gain was kept in check by lagging healthcare company stocks. Markets have been bumpy in recent days as investors move past a stellar corporate earnings season and look for additional clues on economic growth.

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Alden puts its stamp on Tribune with new debt and leadership

CHICAGO: Hedge fund Alden Global Capital has closed its deal for Tribune and has installed new leadership and saddled the newspaper chain with $278 million in debt, according to regulatory filings. Alden, which owns the MediaNews Group newspaper chain and is the second-largest newspaper company by circulation, has a reputation as a ruthless cost-cutter in pursuit of profits. Weighing down Tribune with debt could make it harder to invest in local journalism. The union that represents the journalists had raised concerns that Alden would use debt to pay for Tribune. Tribune reporters were tweeting that the company was offering voluntary buyouts.

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Bank CEOs outline pandemic support; senators split on issues

WASHINGTON: The CEOs of the six biggest U.S. banks have appeared before Congress, eager to lay out their support for struggling consumers and small businesses. But lawmakers focused more keenly in a Senate hearing on the contentious social and political issues that are dividing the country. Climate change, voting rights and racial inequity animated the debate and questioning of the executives in a hearing by the Senate Banking Committee. Democrats demanded the Wall Street powerhouses do more to help struggling minority communities. Republicans warned against promoting social activism through banking practices.

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Ford: Electric vehicles to be 40% of global sales by 2030

DETROIT: Ford says it expects 40% of its global sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030 as it adds billions to the amount its spending to develop them. During a presentation to Wall Street on Wednesday, the automaker said it will add about $8 billion to its EV development spending from this year to 2025. That would bring the total to nearly $20 billion as Ford begins to develop and build batteries in a joint venture with SK Innovation of Korea. The company also announced it would create a separate business called Ford Pro to focus on commercial fleet buyers. It also expects to have about 1 million vehicles capable of getting over-the-internet software updates this year. Ford says it will have more vehicles with the feature than Tesla by July of 2022.

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The S&P 500 rose 7.86 points, or 0.2%, to 4,195.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 10.59 points, or less than 0.1%, to 34,323.05. The Nasdaq gained 80.82 points, or 0.6%, to 13,738. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies tacked on 43.52 points, or 2%, to 2,249.27.

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