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Sears, Kmart closings to hit Florida hardest

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) -- Florida will be hit the hardest by the closing of Sears and Kmart stores, losing 11, according to a preliminary list of 79 planned closures released Thursday.

Ohio, Michigan and Georgia are not far behind with six store closures planned in their states. Tennessee, North Carolina and Minnesota are set to lose four stores each.

A spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp. said each store employs between 40 and 80 people.

None of the closures announced so far are in Sears' home state of Illinois or New York.

The 125-year-old retailer said on Tuesday it would close up to 120 stores to raise cash.

The projected closings represent only about 3 percent of Sears Holdings' U.S. stores. Sears and Kmart merged in 2005.

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Marvel wins suit

NEW YORK (AP) -- Comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment owns the rights to the Ghost Rider character in the fiery form that originated in the early 1970s, a federal judge ruled Wednesday as she rejected the claims of a former Marvel writer seeking to cash in on lucrative movie rights.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest tossed out 4-year-old claims brought by Gary Friedrich, who said he created the motorcycle-driving Ghost Rider with the skeletal head that sometimes had fire blazing from it. A Ghost Rider of the 1950s and '60s was a Western character who rode a horse.

The judge said Friedrich gave up all ownership rights when he signed checks containing language relinquishing all rights to the predecessor companies of Marvel Entertainment LLC.

"The law is clear that when an individual endorses a check subject to a condition, he accepts that condition," the judge wrote.

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Alibaba hires lobbyist

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese e-commerce business partly owned by Yahoo! Inc., hired Washington lobbying firm Duberstein Group Inc. for help in possibly buying out Yahoo's stake in the company.

Duberstein, founded by Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan, disclosed its affiliation with Alibaba's legal representatives in a filing.

Alibaba stepped up efforts to buy back its stake after the September ouster of Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz, who had opposed a sale. Yahoo owns 40 percent of Alibaba, an investment that's helped maintain the U.S. Internet company's value even as it loses ground to Google Inc. and Facebook Inc.

As China's biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba has given Yahoo a foothold in a faster-growing market. It acquired the stake in Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba for about $1 billion in 2005. -- Bloomberg News

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Lowe's buys ATG Stores

Lowe's Cos., the world's second- largest home improvement chain, has bought ATG Stores to accelerate online sales of lighting, tools and furnishings.

ATG will operate as a Lowe's unit and will remain based in Kirkland, Wash., Lowe's said in a statement. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Lowe's will add ATG's more than 500 websites as Chief Executive Officer Robert Niblock spends a record amount on technology in the fiscal year through January. The company, based in Mooresville, N.C., is doubling the number of lowes.com items to 260,000 and equipping employees with iPhones after trailing larger Home Depot Inc. in same-store sales. -- Bloomberg News

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Bank appoints 2 to board

Lake Shore Bancorp's board of directors appointed two new members, naming Kevin M. Sanvide and Susan C. Ballard to the board as of Jan. 1, while changing its bylaws to increase the number of directors from nine to 11.

Sanvidge was former executive vice president of administration and supply chain at juice and beverage maker Cliffstar Corp. Ballard is vice president of Patrick Custom Homes, a residential construction and real estate development firm.

Both were also appointed to the board of Lake Shore Savings Bank.

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