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BUSINESS BRIEFLY

Dell plans for the future with $2 billion-plus in cuts

NEW YORK (AP) -- Computer maker Dell Inc. is planning more than $2 billion in cost cuts over the next three years as its looks to transform its business so it can keep pace in the highly competitive technology sector.

The company said during the second day of a conference in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday that the bulk of the cuts -- approximately $800 million -- will come from its sales group. Another $600 million in cost savings is anticipated to be found in its supply chain.

The company has been struggling with weak PC sales as consumers increasingly shift to tablets and smartphones. It has been buying up software and services companies in an effort to move beyond PCs.

Dell announced Tuesday that it will soon pay its first quarterly dividend.

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Air Force contract in court

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The legal wrangling over a disputed $354 million U.S. Air Force contract to build a light air-support plane to help security efforts in Afghanistan has returned to the courtroom.

Sierra Nevada Corp. sued Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking reinstatement of the contract.

Wichita-based Hawker Beechcraft Corp. had challenged the award late last year. The Air Force announced earlier this year that it was rescinding the contract and opening an investigation.

SNC says the contract's cancellation was an extreme response to paperwork errors by the Air Force. It also contends the revised bid proposal is tilted in favor of the competition.

Hawker Beechcraft declined to comment on the lawsuit.

At stake is a contract that ultimately could be worth nearly $1 billion, depending on future orders.

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Stanford assets up for grabs

HOUSTON (AP) -- As former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's criminal case gets ready to wind down with his sentencing today for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, the battle for control of his remaining assets around the globe still hasn't been settled.

Investors are hoping to get back some of the money that was taken from them, but those leading the efforts are at odds over who should control Stanford's frozen bank accounts and properties. They've even duplicated efforts to go after certain assets.

The legal battle over the assets has frustrated investors, who are still waiting for a payout more than three years after Stanford's businesses were shut down.

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Amish investor sentenced

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- An Amish man who managed investments for members of his religious community in 29 states was sentenced to more than six years in prison Wednesday for defrauding them out of nearly $17 million.

Federal investigators said Monroe L. Beachy, 78, promised investors safe securities but moved their money to riskier investments.

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson rejected his request to allow him to serve his 6 1/2 -year sentence at home and instead ordered that Beachy be sent to prison. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of at least 12 years.

Beachy, who is a member of an Amish church near Sugarcreek, about 60 miles south of Cleveland, pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud. He operated an investment business that filed for bankruptcy protection two years ago.

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Moody's cuts Spain's rating

The rating agency Moody's is cutting the Spanish government's credit rating, a direct result of the rescue package lined up by European leaders over the weekend.

Moody's lowered Spain's grade from A3 to Baa3, in an announcement made late Wednesday. That's still investment grade on Moody's scale, but it's just one notch above a junk rating.

The downgrade comes after European leaders announced a $125.64 billion loan to Spain on Sunday. The loan is meant to help Spain shore up its hobbled banking system. But it will also increase the government's debt burden, Moody's said. That higher debt burden has pushed borrowing costs up to record highs this week.

-- Associated Press