Business news briefs: Heinz expecting to cut jobs in U.K., Ireland

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Heinz expecting to cut jobs in U.K., Ireland

The H.J. Heinz Co., which was sold earlier this year to 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway, is proposing cutting jobs in the Pittsburgh food company's United Kingdom and Ireland operations. "Subject to a consultation process, the proposals may result in the elimination of 248 office positions across the UK and Ireland," said Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs. "We regret the impact this may have on Heinz UK and Ireland employees." He said Heinz has approximately 2,500 people, both salaried and hourly, in the UK. Last week 600 salaried office positions, including 350 jobs in the Pittsburgh area, were cut in the company's U.S. and Canada operations.

Moody's gives county 'negative' credit outlook

Although one ratings agency recently gave Allegheny County a boost, the county will have to settle for a lower grade from another. Moody's Investor Service has opted to keep the county's credit outlook as "negative," citing a financial straitjacket of low reserve levels and slow revenue growth. It has given the county's latest $31 million bond issue an A1 rating, its fifth-highest grade.

The county's remaining $824.8 million in debt was also rated at A1. Moody's competitor Standard & Poor bumped the county's outlook to "stable" last week, saying administrators have shown good fiscal sense by contributing to the county's savings account. It gave the county a "A+" rating, the third-highest grade.

Kia recalls 2014 Sorento for potential axle problem

Kia is recalling more than 9,700 2014 Sorento SUVs with 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines and front-wheel-drive because the front axle can fail and the vehicles can lose power. They were built from Jan. 7 through March 12 of this year. Owners will be notified by letter. Dealers will replace the axle shaft free of charge. The Hyundai Santa Fe, which is similar to the Sorento, was recalled for the same reason last week.

Postal Service changes Downtown pickup times

Faced with declining first-class volume and needing to rein in costs, the U.S. Postal Service has changed pickup times at 70 of its 874 collection sites Downtown. The adjustment, in many cases combining two separate pickup times at 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. into one 2:30 p.m. pickup, was made in the last three weeks, after a survey revealed that for many of the boxes, the second collection trip yielded no mail.

"Making trips to these boxes and not finding mail in them is costly," said Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley. The new pickup times were chosen so postal employees can collect the mail earlier in the day to speed up mail processing.

The changes will affect various mail collection points, including the traditional blue boxes, mail chutes and interior lobby pick-ups. Customers were notified of the changes at those locations 30 days in advance. Locations with a 5 p.m. pickup time were not changed. The Postal Service ended its third quarter in June with a net loss of $740 million, with its losses for the year at $3.9 billion.

Previously occupied homes reach healthy sales pace

For the first time since 2009, previously occupied U.S. homes are selling at a pace associated with a healthy market. Sales jumped 6.5 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.4 million, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Over the past 12 months, sales have surged 17.2 percent. Sales are far above the 3.45 million pace of July 2010, the low point after the housing bubble burst. Analysts generally think a healthy sales pace is roughly between 5 million and 5.5 million.

Wal-Mart eliminates entry fee for holiday layaway

Wal-Mart is getting rid of the $5 entry fee for customers wanting to open its interest-free, pay-over-time program for holiday gifts. The move comes as the world's largest retailer is seeing that its low-income shoppers remain pinched in an uncertain economy. The holiday layaway program is slated to kick off Sept. 13 and will last until Dec. 13. About 35,500 items will be available, 1,000 more than a year ago. At the same time, Wal-Mart is bringing back its $10 cancellation fee that was eliminated last year.

Bloomberg changes policy on journalist access

Financial data and news company Bloomberg LP said Wednesday that has put in place new policies and procedures designed to prevent its journalists from accessing the subscriber information of its Wall Street clients. The moves stem from an outside review that followed complaints earlier this year that journalists in Bloomberg's news division were accessing client log-in activity on trading information terminals maintained by the company's professional service unit.

Facebook partners with mobile tech giants

Facebook wants to get more of the world's more than 7 billion people -- all of them, actually -- online through a partnership with some of the world's largest mobile technology companies. Facebook Inc. announced a partnership called on Wednesday. In addition to the world's biggest online social network, the group also includes Korean electronics giant Samsung, Finnish handset maker Nokia and wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc. The group's plans include developing cheaper smartphones and tools that would reduce the amount of data required to run apps.



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