Morning Business Briefing

Lululemon hires product chief in wake of see-through pants mishap

The Globe and Mail

Lululemon sign. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

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Lululemon hires product chief
Lululemon Athletica Inc. is bringing in a veteran retail executive as its product chief in the wake of its troubles with see-through pants.

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The Vancouver-based retailer has hired Tara Poseley as chief product officer to run its global sales and design strategy.

Ms. Poseley, before now the chief of apparel for the Kmart operations of Sears Holdings Corp., will join Lululemon as it climbs back from the mishap with its top-selling yoga wear.

Ms. Poseley also previously headed up Disney Stores North America and held several senior positions at Gap Inc.

She also clearly has a fitness thing going.

“Tara practices yoga, is an avid telemark skier, loves spending time in outdoor activities with her family and looks forward to living in Vancouver, B.C.,” the company said.

The announcement of Ms. Poseley’s hiring ends one of the uncertainties that had dogged Lululemon.

BlackBerry gains
BlackBerry Ltd. shares are on the rise this morning as potential bidders circle the company and a deadline draws near.

The stock was up by 1 per cent, at $8.40 (U.S.) within about 15 minutes of the Nasdaq open.

This comes amid reports that BlackBerry executives met last week with officials of Facebook Inc. to see if they were interested in bidding for the smartphone maker, which is in the midst of an auction for all or part of the company.

Facebook reports quarterly results after markets close today, and may well be asked about the reports on its conference call with analysts.

There are many interested parties – they include BlackBerry co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, former Apple Inc. chief John Sculley, U.S. private equity firm Cerberus, and some industry players – but so far only Canada’s Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. has proposed an offer.

Fairfax proposed leading a consortium to take BlackBerry private for $4.7-billion, or $9 a share, and has until next week to complete its due diligence.

Wi-LAN looks at alternatives
Wi-LAN Inc. has put out the “for sale” sign.

As The Globe and Mail’s Bertrand Marotte reports, the patent licensing concern said today it is exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale.

Wi-LAN is involved with buying and developing technology patents for licensing.

“The company strongly believes in its current business strategy but does not believe that its current share price accurately reflects its strong balance sheet, the value of its signed license agreements, its business prospects or the residual value of its broad intellectual property portfolio,” it said in a statement.

“Strategic alternatives to be considered may include changes to the company’s dividend policy or other forms of return of capital to shareholders, the acquisition or disposition of assets, joint ventures, the sale of the company, alternative operating models or continuing with the current business plan, among other potential alternatives.”

Barclays caught up in probe
Barclays PLC is the latest bank to be caught up in a global probe into the possible manipulation of currency markets.

Indeed, Barclays shed more light on the investigation in its earnings statement today, saying the probes “appear to involve multiple market participants in various countries.”

Barclays said it has been asked about the matter by authorities.

It added it is “reviewing its foreign exchange trading covering a several year period through August 2013 and is co-operating with the relevant authorities in their investigations.”

This follows the disclosure yesterday by UBS and Deutsche Bank that they, too, are co-operating in the investigation.

No allegations have been proven.

The regulators involved have not said what exactly they’re looking into, but their investigations follow reports by Bloomberg News that have focused on what’s known as a “fix,” which pegs the value of a currency at a certain time of day, and is used as a benchmark.

Canada’s bank regulator, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, has said only that it’s aware of the global probes, while the Bank of Canada has not commented.

The investigation also comes amid the latest settlement in a probe of Libor, a benchmark interest rate.

Auto makers rebound
General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC continue to rebound from the dark days of the recession.

GM today posted a drop in third-quarter profit, but beat analysts’ estimates by earning $757-million (U.S.) or 45 cents a share.

That was down from $1.5-billion or 89 cents a year earlier, though included one-time hits. When those are stripped out, the auto maker brought in 96 cents a share.

Revenue climbed to $39-billion from $37.6-billion.

Chrysler, in turn, reported that its third-quarter profit climbed 22 per cent to $464-million while sales gained 13.5 per cent to $17.6-billion.

Maple Leaf profit slips
Maple Leaf Foods Inc.’s profit fell by 60 per cent to $18.6-million in the third quarter as restructuring costs and lower meat sales offset a rise in the company’s bakery division, The Globe and Mail's Eric Atkins reports.

“This is a very challenging period of transition for the Maple Leaf organization, as the short-term impact of volatile protein market conditions, combined with the significant cost of change, has been material,” Michael McCain, chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Foods, said in a statement today.

The maker of Shopsy’s and Schneiders prepared meats, which is selling its Canada Bread unit, is three years into a $575-million five-year restructuring of its meats business, revamping its product lines, shedding staff, closing old plants while upgrading and opening others. It spent $15-million during the quarter expanding new facilities in central and eastern Canada.

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