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A roundup of the latest news from The Associated Press:
• Sony Pictures to lay off 450 as DVD sales fall
LOS ANGELES — Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., the studio behind the "Spider-Man" movie franchise, is laying off about 450 people and eliminating 100 open positions to cope with declining DVD sales.
The layoffs represent a 6.5 percent reduction in the 6,800-strong work force at Sony Pictures.
Most of the cuts at the studio, which is based in Culver City, Calif., will occur by the first week of March and will be in the home entertainment and information-technology units in the United States.
It’s the second time in a year for the subsidiary of Japan’s Sony Corp. to cut back.
Last March, it laid off nearly 250 people and eliminated nearly 100 open positions. That followed a move in October 2008 to reduce overtime, travel and executive benefits.
"Our industry is affected by two things: It’s affected by the economy, of course, and it’s affected by technology," co-chair Amy Pascal says. "Over the last two years, it’s changed people’s DVD buying habits, which has had a huge effect on our company and the industry at large."
U.S. home video revenue fell 5 percent in 2009, to $20 billion, according to the Digital Entertainment Group, an industry association of studios and electronics firms.
DVD rental and purchase revenues dropped 11 percent, to $16.4 billion, the group said. That overwhelmed a 67 percent gain in Blu-Ray disc spending, to $1.5 billion, and a 31 percent gain in online and video-on-demand revenues, to $2.1 billion.
• Macmillan books still missing at Amazon
NEW YORK — Amazon.com continued to withhold sales of books published by Macmillan on Monday, the result of a pricing dispute that helped knock shares in the online retailer down more than 5 percent.
Amazon.com Inc. told customers in one of its online forums Sunday that it would have to "capitulate" to Macmillan’s demand that it charge more than current prices for digital editions on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader.
But so far, many Macmillan books are available only from third-party sellers on Amazon’s Web site, and digital editions are absent completely. Amazon’s statement didn’t address why the company decided to make such a public move in pulling Macmillan titles, or when the titles would return.
Macmillan’s titles include "The Politician," a new insider account of the John Edwards presidential campaign by former aide Andrew Young, and "Night," Elie Wiesel’s classic account of the Holocaust.
Macmillan is one of the world’s largest English-language publishers. Its divisions include St. Martin’s Press, itself one of the largest publishers in the U.S.; Henry Holt & Co., one of the oldest publishers in America; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; and Tor, the leading science-fiction publisher.
Amazon and Macmillan did not respond to requests seeking comment Monday.
The company typically prices e-books at a flat rate of $9.99, even for best-sellers and new releases. Under Macmillan’s model, which it plans to roll out in March, it will charge from $12.99 to $14.99, and prices will change over time.
Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian said Amazon could be forced to raise prices on a wider range of books if other publishers follow suit. Otherwise, it could end up facing delays to get new titles, "which could impact sales volume," Sebastian said in a client note Monday.
To preserve the more lucrative hardcover business, publishers including Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins Hachette Book Group USA have said they will impose delays on the release of digital copies.
Amazon wants lower prices to protect the Kindle’s lead in the e-reader market. Such rivals as the Nook from Barnes & Noble Inc. and the forthcoming iPad from Apple Inc. are looking to challenge that position. But Sebastian noted that higher prices will mean bigger profit margins.
"Amazon could turn e-books from loss leaders to profit generators," he said.
• Boston Scientific pays J&J $1.7B in stent settlement
WASHINGTON — Boston Scientific said Monday it will pay medical device rival Johnson & Johnson $1.73 billion to settle several seven-year-old patent disputes over drug-coated stents.
Boston Scientific will pay Johnson & Johnson’s Cordis unit $1 billion Monday and $725 million next January. The settlement resolves three patent disputes dating to 2003 and avoids jury trials that were scheduled to begin this month.
Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., said it expects to post most of the payment as a special item in the first quarter.
Boston Scientific’s Chief Executive Ray Elliott said the settlement is a positive step in resolving legal risks posed by ongoing litigation. His company has settled 17 lawsuits with J&J in the past year.
"While we still have a number of litigation matters remaining, this recent settlement has materially reduced our financial risks going forward," Elliott said in a statement.
Leerink Swann analyst Rick Wise said in a note that the settlement did resolve some uncertainties, but "clearly this will result in more anxiety about Boston Scientific’s balance sheet leverage."
Boston Scientific said the settlement won’t seriously impact its debt requirements and will leave the company with significant cash available under its credit facilities. Boston Scientific said it still plans to be able to refinance debt coming due in 2011 by the middle of this year.
Boston Scientific reported stent sales of $450 million in the last quarter. The company also makes pacemakers, defibrillators and other implants.
• Yahoo signs new licensing deal with AP
SAN FRANCISCO — The Associated Press has signed a licensing deal with Yahoo Inc. that gives the news cooperative a steady stream of revenue at a time less money is flowing in from newspapers and broadcasters.
The announcement by both companies Monday didn’t disclose the financial terms of the agreement.
The AP says it is still negotiating to renew its online licensing agreements with two other companies with far deeper pockets, Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Google stopped posting fresh AP content on its Web site in late December.
Stung by the AP’s first downturn in revenue in years, AP’s management has said the cooperative needs to make more money from the online rights to its stories, photographs and video as more people flock to the Web for information and entertainment.
It’s unclear whether the AP achieved its financial objectives in the Yahoo deal.
Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., described the AP as an important part of its efforts to keep its nearly 600 million worldwide users informed. "We look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with AP for many years to come," the company said in a statement.
The duration of the new contract wasn’t disclosed. Yahoo has been posting AP content on its site since 1998. Its Web site also relies on other services, including AP rival Reuters, as well as reporters that it employs.