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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Sovran acquires facilities in Chicago and Miami

Sovran Self Storage has acquired a pair of storage facilities in Chicago and another in Miami in deals worth a total of $36.1 million, the Amherst-based self-storage facility operator said Tuesday.

The three stores, which will be switched to Sovran's Uncle Bob's brand name, have a total of 246,000 square feet of space and are each located in affluent, high-density markets on major roads, the company said.

The Miami store will add to Sovran's presence in the southeastern Florida market, while the two stores in Chicago are the company's first.

"We've been looking to establish a foothold [in Chicago] for some time," said David Rogers, Sovran's chief executive officer.

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Seaway cargo shipments up

Cargo shipped on the St. Lawrence Seaway rose 4 percent in May.

Total cargo shipped on the seaway was 8.9 million metric tons, according to seaway officials. Cargo shipped on the Welland Canal portion of the seaway was up 11 percent from a year ago, to 7.4 million metric tons.

North American commodities used in the steel and construction industries drove the tonnage increase on the seaway, officials said. Grain shipments were down on both sides of the border.

Since the opening of the seaway in late March through May, cargo shipments increased about 4 percent from a year ago. Seaway officials in March predicted a 3 percent increase for the entire season, which typically ends in late December.

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Big cuts at Times-Picayune

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Times-Picayune said Tuesday 200 employees will lose their jobs when one of the nation's oldest daily newspapers shifts its focus to online news and publishes just three days a week beginning this fall.

The paper said 84 of the newsroom's 173 employees were cut at the 175-year-old business. Advertising, circulation and other departments also were affected. The change means New Orleans will become the largest metro area in the nation without a daily newspaper in the digital age.

In Alabama, three major daily newspapers laid off about 400 employees. It wasn't immediately clear what departments were hit hardest at the Birmingham News, the Press-Register in Mobile and the Huntsville Times.

Papers have struggled in recent years as print advertising declined during the recession, and newspapers have yet to learn how to make online advertising as profitable as its printed counterpart.

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Berkshire eyes ResCap

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Warren E. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is offering to buy the mortgage division and loan portfolio of Residential Capital LLC, which filed for bankruptcy protection in May.

Residential Capital, also known as ResCap, is a subsidiary of Ally Financial Inc., the former auto lending arm of General Motors. ResCap was hobbled by payments on debt taken out to finance soured home mortgages.

Berkshire didn't spell out why it is interested in ResCap's assets in the court filing in which it outlined why its offer is better than competing bids.

But the conglomerate based in Omaha, Neb., already has significant interests in the insurance business along with a variety of other companies ranging from railroads to newspapers and clothiers.

Buffett has said that he believes the U.S. housing market will recover because more families continue to be formed, but he's not predicting when residential construction will rebound. Berkshire owns The Buffalo News.

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ING fined in sanctions case

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dutch bank ING Bank NV will pay $619 million to settle charges that it secretly moved billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Cuban and Iranian customers, in violation of U.S. sanctions.

ING intentionally deleted information about thousands of transactions that would have linked the money to sanctioned parties in Cuba, Iran and other countries, the Treasury Department said Tuesday.

The fine, a record for U.S. sanctions violations, defuses multiple criminal and civil probes of ING's practices between 2002 and 2007.