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General Mills seeking stake in Yoplait yogurt

General Mills Inc. has entered into exclusive negotiations to buy a majority stake in French yogurt company Yoplait, the company said Friday.

Yoplait is the world's second-largest yogurt maker and is owned by French investment firm PAI partners and French cooperative dairy group Sodiaal. If successful, General Mills would acquire the roughly 50 percent stake held by PAI partners and work with Sodiaal, which is retaining its stake.

General Mills did not disclose the value of the offer, but the Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the situation, has placed it at $1.1 billion.

The acquisition would build on General Mills' aim to increase its health and wellness product portfolio and expand operations in France, where it already produces several products.

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$5.5 billion buyback OK'd

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The Goldman Sachs Group has received regulators' permission to spend $5.5 billion to repurchase Berkshire Hathaway's preferred shares in the banking giant.

Goldman said Friday that the Federal Reserve had approved its plan to repay Warren Buffett's company for the $5 billion investment it made at the height of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

Goldman was eager to repay Berkshire because it had been paying 10 percent interest on the preferred shares, which translated into an annual expense of $500 million.

The repurchase will weigh down Goldman's first-quarter earnings by $2.80 per share.

Berkshire's Goldman investment is involved in a high profile insider trading trial because prosecutors say a former Goldman board member tipped off Raj Rajaratnam about Berkshire's investment. Berkshire owns The Buffalo News.

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Starbucks raising prices

SEATTLE (AP) -- Starbucks Corp. is raising the price for its coffee sold in stores by up to 12 percent to cope with higher costs for beans.

The coffee giant informed grocery customers Friday of the increase for Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee brands. It's up to the grocers and other retailers to decide what price they will charge consumers.

Starbucks is one of several coffee companies to raise prices as the cost for beans has hit record levels. J.M. Smucker Co. and Kraft Foods Inc. have both raised prices on coffee several times during the past year.

Starbucks has not raised prices on packaged coffee since March 2008.

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Suit against Moog dropped

Less than a week after filing a lawsuit against Moog Inc., a German company that distributes some of the Elma motion control equipment maker's medical pumps has dropped the suit.

B. Braun Medical said in court papers filed on Friday that it has withdrawn its lawsuit after the companies reached "an interim resolution pending arbitration."

Moog executives declined to comment.

B. Braun had alleged that Moog violated its now-expired contract by refusing to provide it with pump products for certain customers for whom it retained the exclusive rights to supply with Moog's pumps for delivering intravenous medication.

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Health workers OK pact

NIAGARA FALLS -- About 100 employees at Schoellkopf Health Center, a 120-bed nursing home operated by Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, ratified a new three-year contract Thursday.

The new pact, announced Friday, brings no wage increases in the first year to the roughly 100 licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants who belong to 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

However, medical center spokesman Patrick J. Bradley said there is a reopener clause that calls for further negotiations on economic issues next year. The contract guarantees there will be no layoffs during the next 12 months for any worker with at least one year's experience at Schoellkopf as of April 30, Bradley said.

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