Business

netspend.com

One of the largest public companies in Central Texas is changing hands. Austin-based NetSpend Holdings Inc. has agreed to be acquired by Total System Services (TSYS) for around $1.4 billion.

TSYS is a payment processing company based in Columbus, Georgia. It provides credit solutions to financial institutions, businesses, and governments in more than 80 countries.

courtesy Heyride

SideCar, a San Francisco company that uses smartphones to connect car owners with people who need a ride, has acquired HeyRide, an Austin company that tried to do the same thing.

HeyRide received a cease and desist order in November from the city of Austin. The city said the startup operated like a cab service but didn’t take the same safety and regulatory precautions.

Update at 6:50 a.m. ET, Feb. 14: News Is Confirmed.

Statements confirming the news that directors of US Airways and American Airlines have agreed to merge the airlines have now been released by both companies.

American says:

facebook.com/TexasImmigrationSolution

An event in Austin today aims to bring together Texas leaders in business, law enforcement and faith to talk about immigration.

flickr.com/slice

Austin’s ban on some single-use bags goes into effect in just over three weeks. Today, area businesses will get training on the new bag rules.

The city is holding two training sessions for restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores: one this morning, and another one at 6 p.m.

flickr.com/oracle_images

Dell Inc. is facing a lawsuit. It was filed in Delaware on Wednesday.

The lawsuit accuses founder and CEO Michael Dell and other company directors of breaching their fiduciary duties by failing to maximize shareholder value and selling the company at the lowest price at the expense of shareholders.

flickr.com/dellphotos

Update: Dell's announcement this morning has thousands of Austin employees wondering how going private will affect them.

John Doggett is a Senior Lecturer at UT’s McCombs School of Business. He expects layoffs at Dell.

“I expect they will substantially reduce their PC group by most likely getting rid of consumer PCs and anybody in that group may lose their job," Doggett said. "They will also get out of their investor relations group because they don’t have any investors to talk to in the public. They probably will also not do any or many acquisitions... And I expect those who can leave, are going to leave. There’s going to be an exodus if they feel that their job is at risk."

Michael Dell sent an email out to employees shortly before 8:30 this morning.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Governor Rick Perry has made a habit of saying businesses from other states would be better off in Texas. Now, he’s bringing that message to the airwaves in California.

Governor Perry is courting Golden State companies with a 30 second radio spot that will run for the next week on stations in 5 cities – including San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. His message, as always, focuses on the low-tax, low-regulation climate in Texas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership continues to decline in the United States.

In 2012, American Union membership rate dropped to 11.3 percent from 11.8 percent in 2011. As The Washington Post reports, that's the lowest level since the 1930s.

flickr.com/trufflepig

We all think we know what happy means. But when you get down to it, how would we actually define it? Raj Raghunathan has tried. He teaches marketing at UT’s McCombs School of Business. He studies, among other things, consumer behavior, decision theory, and happiness. Raghunathan says different people define happiness differently, but a couple of traits are universal. It’s a positive emotion, and we want to experience it. But, he says, pursuing society’s most common markers of happiness won’t actually get us there.

KUT News

Years of drought have wreaked havoc on the cattle industry in Texas. Today a major beef processor in the Panhandle said it is temporarily closing a plant because of dwindling supply.

Cargill says it will idle its facility in Plainview, which employs about 2,000 people.

UPDATE at 12:35 p.m., ET, Jan. 17: Many of you wrote in to tell us you were taken aback by Whole Foods top executive John Mackey characterizing the health law as fascism in an NPR interview, and apparently, he's feeling a little sheepish.

About three minutes into his otherwise amiable chat with CBS This Morning hosts on on Thursday, Mackey walked back his comments in response to a direct question from Norah O'Donnell:

Dell Inc.

Shares in computer-maker Dell Inc. surged by 13 percent Monday on rumors the Round Rock based company could go private. Bloomberg News cites anonymous sources as saying Dell is in talks with at least two private equity firms.

John Doggett is a lecturer at the University of Texas McCombs School of Business. He says the talks come as Dell is shifting its business strategy away from PCs.

flickr.com/dellphotos

Until yesterday, Dave Johnson was a part of computer company Dell’s strategy to turn the once-dominant company around. But Dell declared yesterday that Johnson is ditching the tech industry altogether to take a senior position with an investment company.

In 2009 Johnson jumped ship from IBM to Dell as senior vice president for corporate strategy. The company’s intention was to catapult from personal computers into the tech service market, alongside giants like IBM and Hewlett-Packard. 

Suddenly, the new year is looking a bit brighter — at least in the eyes of most economists and investors.

On Day 1 of 2013, Congress voted to veer away from the "fiscal cliff" by passing a package of provisions that avoided broad tax hikes and big spending cuts. And on Day 2, stock prices shot up.

The issue of gun control appears to have moved into business and finance. One of the largest private equity companies in the country is terminating its relationship with a firearms corporation associated with one of the weapons used in the Newtown school shooting.

Jason Wiseman/Texas Tribune

A business lobbying group that’s been a big supporter of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR exams, has called for some changes, saying that the program may have gone overboard in trying to introduce accountability so quickly.

The Texas Association of Business wants to reduce the number of tests a high school senior needs to pass in order to graduate, and to push the entire program’s full implementation back three years.

Saying it is concerned that the economy won't be strong enough in coming months to keep adding jobs to the labor market, the Federal Reserve announced this afternoon that is increasing its efforts to give the economy a boost.

And in an unusually specific statement from the central bank, its policymakers said they expect to keep a key short-term interest rate at or near zero percent "as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5 percent."

Update at 6:00 p.m. ET:

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law two controversial "right-to-work" bills passed earlier Tuesday by the state's House. This officially makes Michigan the 24th right-to-work state in the nation.

The two bills give both public and private employees so-called right-to-work protections — controversial pieces of legislation that have sparked protests in and around the state capitol in Lansing.

Lines of communication remain open in an effort to avert the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff," according to the White House and House Speaker John Boehner.

If no deal is reached between now and the end of the year, would the consequences be that drastic?

To answer that question, let's imagine it's January and the nation has gone off the "fiscal cliff." You don't really feel any different and things don't look different, either. That's because, according to former congressional budget staffer Stan Collender, the cliff isn't really a cliff.

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