Business news in brief

Baker Hughes lays off 28 in Shreveport

SHREVEPORT -- A corporation that provides services for the oil and gas industry is laying off 28 employees at its Shreveport facility.

Baker Hughes notified the state of the layoffs in a letter late last week. A copy was released Monday by Louisiana's labor department. The company said the layoffs are the result of cutbacks in exploration, drilling and production caused by the declining price of oil.

Angie McPherson, a human resources director with Baker Hughes, said in the letter that the layoff, effective last Thursday, was expected to be permanent. Employees were getting paid for 60 days, with benefits lasting another three months.

Lignite for 2,000 years, German area says

Lignite mines in eastern Germany's Lausitz area have reserves to last 2,000 years, according to the region's government, which has championed keeping the open-cast pits open against critics.

The lignite belt that straddles southern Brandenburg and northern Saxony states has some 80 billion tons of reserves, Brandenburg's government said on Monday in reply to questions from state lawmakers. Some 45 billion tons, or 1,000 years of reserves, can be accessed with existing technology, the government said.

German utilities including RWE AG, unions and the states successfully fended off a plan by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government this summer to fast-track lignite power plant closures to help Germany meet its climate goals.

The lignite plants, power generation's biggest polluter, account for about a quarter of Germany's power needs. Merkel has pledged to cut carbon dioxide pollution by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. Environment lobbies such as the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact have asked whether Merkel can achieve her pledge after backing down on plant closure plans.

-- Bloomberg News

Meetings start on Gulf oil-lease sale

NEW ORLEANS -- The federal government is holding public meetings this week in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana as it works on a supplemental environmental impact statement for an oil lease sale tentatively planned for 2017.

The lease sale would cover about 46 million acres in the central Gulf of Mexico, off of those three states.

The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management said the first meeting is today at the Hilton Garden Inn Mobile West in Mobile, Ala.

Wednesday's meeting will be at the Courtyard by Marriott in Gulfport, Miss.

The third will be Thursday at the bureau's office on Elmwood Park Boulevard in suburban New Orleans.

Leaving Netflix, Epix will land on Hulu

The cable network Epix jumped from Netflix to Hulu, landing a multiyear, digital subscription video on demand deal with the streaming service.

Beginning Oct. 1, Hulu subscribers will get films from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount, the companies announced late Sunday. That includes Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Wolf of Wall Street, as well as new titles, library films and Epix original programming.

It's a "huge expansion" for Hulu's premium programming, said Senior Vice President Craig Erwich.

Netflix plans to improve its lineup through original films and licensing arrangements with movie studios, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos wrote in a blog post. He said that many of the movies Netflix received through its Epix agreement also were widely available through other subscription platforms.

Blue Bell resumes sales after recall

BRENHAM, Texas -- Blue Bell Creameries resumed selling its products at select locations Monday, four months after listeria contamination forced the Texas-based retailer to halt sales.

Blue Bell ice cream is now available at stores in the Houston and Austin areas, including in the company's hometown of Brenham, plus parts of Alabama.

Some retailers limited purchases as Blue Bell rolled out flavors including homemade vanilla, Dutch chocolate, cookies 'n cream and a side-by-side blend of chocolate and vanilla.

"So that all of our customers can enjoy this delicious treat, please limit your purchase to two Blue Bell items," read a sign on a freezer door at one grocery store.

A grocery store in the Houston area celebrated the return of the treats by holding a Blue Bell ice cream-eating contest Monday.

The company voluntarily recalled its products in April after they were linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. Listeria bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Japanese passenger jet sets test flight

Japan is home to some of the world's biggest automakers, is one of the biggest shipmakers, and its trains run on subways and high-speed tracks around the globe. One industry Japan hasn't been able to penetrate is construction of passenger jets.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. is aiming to change that with Japan's first new passenger plane in more than four decades -- and its first passenger jet ever. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet will make its debut flight in the second half of October, for about an hour, the Nagoya-based company said in a statement Monday.

Japan wants to break the virtual lock that Embraer SA and Bombardier Inc. have on the market for small passenger jets, as Boeing Co. and Airbus Group SE control the market for larger passenger planes. With Montreal-based Bombardier now focusing on its larger CSeries jets, which will be able to carry as many as 160 passengers, Mitsubishi Aircraft sees an opening it believes it can fill. The 92-seat MRJ90 sells at a list price of $47.3 million.

Japan's last homegrown passenger plane was the YS-11, a turboprop made by Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing Corp., a consortium of manufacturers that included Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., owner of Mitsubishi Aircraft; Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.; and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. Only 182 of the planes were sold.

-- Bloomberg News

Business on 09/01/2015