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Sara Lee to split into two companies

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Sara Lee Corp. is splitting into two public companies, completing its evolution from conglomerate to a smaller business more tightly focused on food and drinks.

The company said Friday that the deal is the best way to provide shareholder value in the long run. Stockholders will receive a special $3 dividend and their shares will split to give them an interest in each company.

Sara Lee, based in Downers Grove, Ill., will keep its name and current location with one company, which will concentrate on its North American retail and food service businesses. That includes brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park and Hillshire Farm, as well as Sara Lee frozen desserts. These operations generated about $4.1 billion in revenue during Sara Lee's latest fiscal year.

A second company, which has not been named but is being called CoffeeCo, will focus on the company's international bakery and beverage businesses.

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Kraft loses round in court

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Kraft Foods Inc. took a blow Friday in its fight to keep Starbucks Corp. from ending its distribution partnership with the food company.

A U.S. District Court judge denied Kraft's request for a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped Starbucks from unilaterally ending its distribution partnership with Kraft before the end of arbitration that is still under way and not affected by the court's decision Friday.

Kraft said it intends to appeal the court's decision.

Starbucks said Kraft failed to effectively promote its products with grocers and other retailers.

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'No-haggle' pricing for Fiat

SAN DIEGO -- Chrysler wants dealers to avoid haggling with shoppers over the price of the Fiat 500 when reintroducing its parent company's brand to America, betting that will make young customers more comfortable in showrooms.

"The pricing is the pricing," said Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America. "The younger generation doesn't haggle. They don't feel comfortable with it. They hate the experience."

Dealers have been given advertising standards that include prohibitions on promoting vehicles for less than the manufacturer's suggested retail price, Soave said.

The Fiat 500, already being made in Mexico, will start at $15,500, not including the destination charge. Chrysler has said it expects to sell 50,000 of the cars in North America. Company executives expect to make additional money on the sale of accessories.

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Union ballot faces suit

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Four states are vowing to fight the federal government in a bid to preserve state measures that guarantee workers the right to secret ballots in union elections.

Attorneys general from Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah are pledging in a joint letter to "vigorously defend" changes to their state constitutions approved by voters on Nov. 2.

The National Labor Relations Board has threatened to sue the states, saying the constitutional amendments conflict with current federal law.

Business groups sought the constitutional amendments because they fear Congress could pass a new law requiring every employer to recognize a union if a majority of workers simply sign cards.

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Goldman Sachs pays bonus

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. gave Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein a $12.6 million stock bonus for 2010, an increase from $9 million a year earlier.

Blankfein, 56, received 78,111 shares on Jan. 26, according to a filing Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. At the closing price of $161.31 that day, the shares would be valued at $12.6 million. Goldman Sachs also raised Blankfein's base salary to $2 million this year from $600,000.

Goldman Sachs, the fifth-largest U.S. bank by assets, reported 2010 earnings dropped 38 percent from a record in 2009.

-- Bloomberg News

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