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    Oilfield services provider Halliburton Co (HAL) announced in a statement on Sunday it had received a request from the European Commission for additional information about its proposed $35 billion merger with rival Baker Hughes Inc. The company also said it had responded to a second request made by U.S. antitrust officials considering whether to approve the merger.

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    The following are the top stories on the business pages of British newspapers. The Times. Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) is weighing bids for rivals Fairmont and Movenpick after ruling itself out of a multibillion-pound merger with America's Starwood last week.

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    U.K. regulators look set to give banks a looser rein than many thought--at least when it comes to returning cash to shareholders. That was the big positive behind Lloyds Banking Group (LYG)' s first-half results, which were hurt by a GBP1.4 billion charge related to insurance mis-selling that was about double expectations. Lloyds only paid its first dividend of any kind since the financial crisis at the end of last year.

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    D.C. United has hired an architect and surveyed potential corporate ticket buyers about seating preferences as it moves forward with plans to build its new stadium in Southwest D.C.Populous, the Kansas City, Mo.-based sports design and architecture firm that worked on Camden Yards and Nationals Park, will also design the United stadium after the team signed the firm in late July.The firm was considered a likely choice because of its work on behalf of the team a year ago, when Populous produced renderings of a possible stadium on Buzzard Point for the team to use in marketing materials.“We have been working with them for over a year and have developed a comfort level in terms of their experience in the region, in this particular field and in our communication with them,” said Tom Hunt, United’s chief operating officer.While new soccer-dedicated stadiums have already been built for most other Major League Soccer teams, United still plays in the too-large and deteriorating RFK Stadium. Jon Knight and Joe Spear, Populous senior principals, said they wanted to create a stadium that would bring fans close to the action, offering an intimacy that Spear said could feel “intimidating for the opposing teams.”“We want to create what I would say is a first-class experience for fans in D.C. that have stood by the team and have had to endure watching games in a football stadium, which is not ideal,” Knight said.Then-known as HOK Sport Venue Event, Populous helped usher in a new era of ballpark design with the brick, retro feel of Camden Yards. The company has worked on other local facilities including M&T Bank Stadium, home to the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens, Georgetown University’s basketball training center and Major League Soccer stadiums in Houston, Kansas City and Orlando.The design of Nationals Park isn’t celebrated in every corner. When it debuted in 2008, Washington Post architecture critic Philip Kennicott praised the park’s sight lines but concluded that it was “a machine for baseball and for sucking the money out of the pockets of people who like baseball, and it makes no apologies about its purely functional design.”Spear said the United design will be distinct from Nationals Park in part because of the importance of connecting to the neighborhood around it. “This stadium should be transformative not just for the soccer fans, but for the neighborhood. This should make that the place to be,” Spear said.Populous will have to contend with an agreement allowing Pepco (POM) to run electrical lines beneath the field, connecting to a new substation the utility is planning. “Anytime you design or build on a site in an urban area like this, you’re going to have issues you have to deal with, and it’s just a matter of turning those problems into opportunities,” Spear said.In June, officials with D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and United agreed on a deal for the stadium, but the city must still finalize acquisition of the needed land by Sept. 30. There are deals in place to acquire all but one parcel owned by developer Akridge.Mayoral spokesman Joaquin McPeek said the city would meet the deadline but was still “in discussions” with Akridge about how to acquire its land.Knight and Spear said they did not know if development of ancillary buildings for restaurants, shops and possibly a hotel along Half Street SW, which are included in the stadium plan, would be built with the stadium or later.Many other details of the United stadium are still being worked out as well, including how many seats it would have — somewhere around or above 20,000 — and how seating areas would be configured and sold.To firm up its plans, United recently sent a lengthy survey to local corporations and businesses asking about stadium preferences.Survey respondents were asked to rank the importance of parking, in-stadium restaurants, tailgating space and amenities such as “local and craft brewery beverage” choices, mobile food ordering, child care facilities, wireless Internet and post-game entertainment such as concerts or fireworks.The survey asks about a variety of general and club seating options, including “wider, padded” seats, enjoying access to private club space or indoor lounges. The very high-end possible “Director’s Box” seats could include access to stylish, air-conditioned lounges, all-inclusive food and beverage service, and the first right to purchase tickets to all other events held at the stadium. The seats could cost as much as $6,000 for the year, or $353 per game.The survey indicates that the team plans to hold focus groups to gather more information from interested buyers.






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    A consortium of German premium carmakers has agreed a deal to buy Nokia's (NOK) mapping business HERE, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday. The consortium of Daimler BMW and Volkswagen's premium division Audi, has agreed to pay close to 2.9 billion euros, one of the people said. Daimler declined to comment while BMW, Audi and Nokia (NOK) did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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    Built leading private-equity firm with Henry Kravis and George Roberts. Jerome Kohlberg, an architect of the leveraged buyout and co-founder of private-equity giant KKR& Co., has died. Kohlberg died at his Martha's Vineyard home on Thursday after a long battle with cancer, according to Kohlberg& Co., the firm he founded after he left KKR in 1987..

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    Jerome Kohlberg Jr., a founder of investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and a pioneer of the leveraged buyout, died on Thursday at his home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, aged 90. Kohlberg's death was confirmed by his former partners at KKR on Saturday.

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    Jerome Kohlberg Jr., a founder of investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and a pioneer of the leveraged buyout, died on Thursday at his home in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, at age 90, according to The New York Times. His son James said the cause was cancer, the Times reported on Saturday.

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    "We remain focused on what we control." Exxon Mobil (XOM) ended a typically dry quarterly results presentation Friday by summing up not only its own culture but also the mantra of all the majors amid a slump in the key variable they can't manage: oil prices. Investors run the risk of cash distributions--Big Oil's big selling point--being squeezed.

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    Mexican energy infrastructure firm IEnova, a unit of U.S.-based Sempra Energy (SRE), said on Friday it will buy out the 50 percent stake in the pipeline company Gasoductos de Chihuahua owned by Mexican state-run oil company Pemex. In a statement, IEnova said that the cost of purchase is $1.325 billion and upon completion of the deal, IEnova will be the sole owner of the company.

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    Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's acquisition spree shows no signs of abating. Friday afternoon, the company announced the acquisition of Polyvore, a fashion commerce site powered by community members that create image collages to put together outfits and interior design plans. "We believe that bringing this type of community and commerce-driven experience to Yahoo's (YHOO) industry-leading content will transform the user experience across our digital magazines and...

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      Investors Bancorp (ISBC), which reported record quarterly earnings, is eagerly looking for opportunities to acquire other community banks. "We did an IPO last year and raised $2.2 billion," said CEO Kevin Cummings. That hunger for acquisition is nothing new: Investors Bancorp (ISBC) has purchased eight community banks since 2008, acquiring $4.5 billion in new deposits.

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    On Tuesday, the White House hosted a sales event of sorts: The Department of Agriculture brought in about 100 investors and venture capitalists to tell them about the golden opportunities they’ve been missing in the nation’s heartland.These aren’t the usual ways you might think of for Wall Street types to make money, like backing industrial dairies or grain processing facilities. Rather, they’re the projects that the government might previously have simply financed itself — sewer upgrades, nursing homes, hospitals, even schools and community centers. Those local amenities can generate income, too, either through user fees or a long-term payback from the state and local government.“The result is a very conservative investment that fleshes out and stabilizes a portfolio,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview before the conference. At the moment, with interests rates so low, even those pokey yields can look attractive to an institutional investor, he argued. “So this is an opportunity for them to actually ramp up their income.”It’s a strategy that America’s cities have long embraced: Attracting private capital to finance public goods, because the government doesn’t have the cash up front to get them built. In rural areas, however, the USDA — which, if it were a bank, would rank among the nation’s largest — has customarily taken care of those needs through a liberal sprinkling of grants and loans.There’s less money for that kind of thing to go around these days, and in the absence of a large-scale federal infrastructure program, the backlog of needed upgrades and new facilities is immense. Start-up businesses, meanwhile, have a hard time getting off the ground without access to the kind of capital available in big cities on the coasts.So the federal government is asking private sector types to step into the breach, and trying to ease their way. Historically, it's been difficult for Wall Street and Silicon Valley to see that far into these markets, which haven’t been primed to take their cash; agricultural lenders tend to operate far differently from that of VCs and big-time investors.“There is a cultural dissonance between where the debt and equity capital communities of our nation are and where the USDA sits,” said Charles Fluharty, president of the Rural Policy Research Institute. Part of the problem is that each opportunity is too small, requiring individualized attention, rather than a pile of money all at once (like a large urban transit system might require, for example).[How the White House wants to help America's poorest kids, and why even more is needed]“Most of those entities need several more zeroes behind their deals than most rural regions can put together on their own,” Fluharty said. "This is an effort to get past that.”The strategy has two main components: Construction projects and small businesses.The first part of the strategy tries to tackle the problem of luring funding for smaller, high-growth companies in rural areas. They tend to escape the attention of venture capitalists who have plenty of startups to choose from in their own backyards.“It is not a market that has attracted lots of attention, and I think that the geography is one of the challenges. It’s tough to get to a bunch of different deals,” said Scott Murphy, chief investment officer with Advantage Capital.To that end, USDA sanctioned a new kind of investment vehicle that can help the heavily-regulated farm credit system channel money with private investors into rural businesses. Advantage Capital runs one of those new entities, called a “Rural Business Investment Company,” and has thus far done three deals. "You have to take a different approach to make this work,” Murphy said. "That’s why it’s necessary for us to do a little cheerleading.”The second component is meant to help with those facility and infrastructure improvements. This past year, the USDA helped line up needy projects for a private fund managed by Capitol Peak Asset Management, which says it’s found lots of enthusiasm for the prospect of taking over where the government comes up short.“Investors are incredibly intrigued and excited about the prospect of entirely new markets opening to them,” said Leo Tilman, Capitol Peak’s executive chairman. “Markets that used to be largely financed by federal, state, and local governments now are available to them through rigorously designed investment products.”The first batch of projects includes university student housing in Mansfield, Pa., a Montessori school in Carbondale, Co., and a daycare facility in Canton., Miss., along with an ambulance storage facility, two hospitals, five nursing homes and eleven water projects. Capitol Peak says it has a long waiting list of projects under review, from energy to transportation to waste.Over the long term, Capitol Peak hopes to develop a way to bundle and securitize these projects, to make them more attractive places for institutional investors to park hundreds of millions of dollars at once without dealing with the particularities of individual small towns. But starting now, to get the funding, local leaders need to learn that the federal government won’t always be there for them.“A lot of those organizations are willing to wait years until they can get on the USDA grant list. They’ll run it right to the edge,” said Bob Engel, chief executive of Cobank, which is serving as an anchor investor in the fund. "Now USDA has to send a message — 'don’t sit and wait, because you might not get it.' ”It’s that second part of the strategy that might make some rural communities a little nervous: Taking private money means that your infrastructure project has to generate a revenue stream for shareholders, rather than just pay itself back, as it would have under direct government financing.“If I’m the public entity — that hospital or school — I want the lowest cost of capital for the funds that I need to build whatever I’m building,” said Thomas Adamek of Stonehenge Capital. “And the lowest cost of capital will always come from the public sector. To the extent that public sector money is available, I would want to use it.”In the absence of taxpayer dollars, in order to make the project happen at all, local leaders would have to offer private investors an attractive return on their investment. That means a water infrastructure upgrade — for example — might require slightly higher fees in order to pay them off.“A part of the reason that these types of projects are attractive to the private sector is because the demand is constant, and there might be less price elasticity around something like water,” said Justin Marlowe, a professor of public finance at the University of Washington. “If you can gradually increase the rate users are paying, that becomes that much more of a steady, predictable revenue stream."[Drier than the dust bowl: Waiting for relief in rural America]In some cases, Marlowe said, a private entity might also seek efficiencies through making a facility run with fewer people, which could take some jobs out of the community.Vilsack argued that in today’s funding environment, with the sheer volume of infrastructure investment that’s needed, bringing in private investors for projects that can pay for themselves is the best way to preserve money for those that often can’t, like rural broadband and electricity. Besides, he said, this isn’t the kind of “privatization” that’s gotten a bad rap in cities for jacking up rates on thing like parking meters; loaning money isn’t the same thing as owning or leasing a whole piece of public infrastructure.And Engel said that when Cobank is in a deal, it will try to make sure the deals work well for rural communities. “We know these people in the rural areas, we care about them,” he said. “That’s the thing that’s going to provide the buffer of protection.”  Still, there’s a debate over just how far the government should go in letting the private sector finance these public necessities. Fluharty, of the Rural Policy Research Institute, breaks down the sides."One pole says, 'we should be careful that we don’t let the government off the hook on its obligations,’” he explained. “The other pole says, ‘if the private sector is willing to invest in this, it is clearly an acknowledgment that government need not do it.’”Of course, that still all depends on whether the private sector actually steps up to put in cash. The rural business investment companies aren’t necessarily as attractive as other vehicles run by the Small Business Administration, for example, which allow for more leverage and don’t restrict investments by geography. And the infrastructure projects don’t yet have enough of a track record to prove they can be profitable investments in places where population is sparse and declining.“At the end of the day, it’s all about sharing and managing risks,” Marlowe said. "I think rural areas represent some unique risks, particularly around the demand for the service, and whether it can really produce the revenues that we think it can.”






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    Viewed from a certain angle, Falls Church, Va.-based Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) looks like a case study of everything people think is wrong with American capitalism: Misleading investors through rosy accounting. Golden parachutes and excessive executive pay. Ruthless cost cutting and outsourcing of jobs overseas. Plumping up share prices through stock buybacks, special dividends and other feats of financial engineering.Yet from another angle you can see in this Beltway information services giant everything that has made American business successful, competitive and resilient: a willingness to acknowledge mistakes and failure, an intolerance for mediocrity and inefficiency, an embrace of globalization, an ability to adapt to changing technology and market conditions, a laser-like focus on customers and investors.The current act in Computer Sciences’ corporate drama is largely being written by Mike Lawrie, a brash 26-year veteran of IBM (IBM) who rose to become its top salesman. Having participated in IBM’s successful transformation in the late 1990s, Lawrie set out to try his own hand as a corporate turnaround specialist, first at Siebel Systems, where he lasted less than a year before falling out with its founder, and then at the British software firm Misys (MUSJF), which he sold to private-equity investors for a handsome premium five years later.When Lawrie arrived in Falls Church in March 2012, CSC was in turmoil. The company was facing $2 billion in losses and write-downs from a troubled contract to computerize patient records for Britain’s National Health Service. The Securities and Exchange Commission was on the verge of charging the company with accounting lapses and failing to disclose the problems with the NHS contract.Closer to home, CSC had performed so badly on a contract to modernize the computer system at the Internal Revenue Service that at one point the agency had mistakenly sent out $300 million in fraudulent tax refunds. The Air Force was preparing to write off $1 billion it paid CSC for a new logistics management system that never worked. Meanwhile, in its commercial business, CSC’s technology and cost structure had become uncompetitive. It trailed rivals in moving work to India and other lower-cost locations while failing to anticipate the shift toward cloud computing and standardized software.As a result of these missteps, when Lawrie arrived CSC was about to report a $4 billion net loss for the year. Its stock, which had been trading as high as $56 a year earlier, had fallen as low as $23 per share. The board of directors had finally fired the previous chief executive, Michael Laphen, a 26-year veteran, who nonetheless walked away with an $11 million severance package and retirement benefits estimated at nearly $1 million a year.“We were close to slipping under the waves,” Lawrie said.What he found was a corporate culture fixated on revenue growth rather than creating value for customers and shareholders. The standard for success was best efforts, not best results. People below were unwilling to deliver bad news to those at the top — and those at the top who were unwilling to receive it. “There was no urgency, no accountability,” he said.Lawrie also found a company highly decentralized in its management and structure. Business units were free to do their own procurement, structure their own contracts, chose their own technology, adopt their own business practices and craft their own compensation incentives. There was no unifying strategy or vision.“When I took my first look at the company before taking the job,” Lawrie said, “honestly I couldn’t figure it out.”A company’s riseComputer Sciences Corp. (CSC) traces its roots to the early years of the computer age. The company, originally based in the Los Angeles area, was founded in 1959 by Roy Nutt, an IBM (IBM) engineer who was part of the team that created the computer language Fortran, and Fletcher Jones, who had managed the computer center at North American Aviation, an aerospace contractor. Together, Nutt and Jones wrote the system software for every major mainframe computer, making it possible for more enterprises to computerize their operations.In the 1960s, CSC switched from serving computer makers to serving computer users — in particular, the biggest user of all: the federal government. In the 1970s, CSC became a big player in time-sharing, renting its mainframe computers to customers by the minute. In the 1980s, it rode the wave of systems integration, helping companies tie their various computer systems together.It was during the 1990s, however, when CSC really took off. Nearly every large company, along with many government agencies, moved to outsource information technology operations — and with it, their existing hardware, software and employees. Companies such as IBM (IBM), EDS and CSC competed for these multiyear, multibillion-dollar contracts. Shortly after moving its headquarters to the Washington region in 2008, CSC’s revenue topped $16 billion, with 95,000 employees worldwide and a balance sheet loaded with its customers’ computer systems, each one custom designed and programmed.Getting contracts was one thing, executing on them was another, as the IRS, the Air Force and Britain’s National Health Service would discover. The common rap on CSC was that while it was pretty good at running data centers or programming software that accomplished a specific task, it was much weaker in understanding its customers’ overall business needs and processes and designing effective computer solutions.CSC, of course, was hardly the only IT service company to have over-promised and under-delivered. But soon after Lawrie and his new chief financial officer, Paul Saleh, settled in, they identified 40 contracts — representing about one-third of the company’s business — that were in trouble, either because of execution failures or because they had fallen short of profitability goals. To fix them they would have to fix the company first.Their approach was bold and ruthless. Every member of the top management team save one (the general counsel) was replaced — in a few cases, more than once. Twelve layers of management were reduced to seven, with hundreds of vice presidents and directors losing their titles. Centralized purchasing and financial systems were put in place. At headquarters and elsewhere, private offices were torn down in favor of open-floor formats. Regular ­customer-satisfaction surveys were instituted, with the results used in setting management bonuses.Computer centers were closed, consolidated or moved to lower-cost locations, both in the United States (Pittsburgh, Bossier City, La.) and abroad (India, Eastern Europe, Vietnam). Managers were told to evaluate employees based on performance, not just effort, with suggestions of a bell-curve-like grading system in which 40 percent of employees would be rated as “below expectations.” Thousands were laid off, denied promotions or encouraged to leave, reducing worldwide employment to 68,500 (including 7,000 in the Washington area, about half of what it once was). “Non-core” divisions, both profitable and unprofitable, were sold off even as other companies were acquired to bolster offerings in cloud computing and cybersecurity.As for those troubled or unprofitable contracts, most were renegotiated or restructured, including the big one with the British health agency, which now uses CSC software in a growing number of its hospitals and regions. Some corporate clients were persuaded to take activities they had outsourced in-house again. Other contracts were simply allowed to expire.Then, after years of negotiation, CSC last month finally settled with the SEC. Although it did not admit or deny that its executives had conspired to mislead investors about the troubled NHS contract, as revealed in e-mails uncovered by investigators, the company agreed to restate its financial results and pay a $190 million fine — on top of the $125 million spent on legal and accounting fees during the investigation. At the insistence of the government, former CEO Laphen agreed to pay a fine of $750,000 and return $3.7 million in bonus money he had received as a result of the inflated earnings.Stock surges with turnaroundComputer Sciences Corp. (CSC) today is considerably smaller, more focused and more profitable than it was three years ago. In the fiscal year ending in March, revenue was just over $12 billion, down from nearly $15 billion in 2012. Annual operating costs have been reduced by more than $3 billion. And if you’re willing to look past all the one-time restructuring and settlement charges and asset write-downs, which continue to be significant, what you find is that a company that three years ago was barely breaking even now posts an annual operating profit of close to $1 billion.The big beneficiaries of this turnaround have been CSC’s shareholders, whose stock is trading at $65 per share, more than twice what it was when Lawrie took over. The overall rise in the stock market, plus the $3 billion in company funds committed to stock buybacks and special dividends, could explain about half of that increase. But the rest is certainly a reflection of the turnaround in CSC’s operations and Wall Street’s confidence in Lawrie.Lawrie himself has also been a big winner. His pay package last year was valued at $15.4 million, including a $1.8 million bonus tied to financial goals that would normally be considered rounding errors at a $12 billion company: a $100 million increase in revenue, a $75 million increase in operating income and an $11 million increase in free cash flow. The pay package also included a grant of stock valued at $8.6 million for exceeding the rather modest goal of a 4 percent increase in operating earnings per share. Those grants brought the total value of Lawrie’s stake in CSC stock, after three years, to $56 million. In their report to shareholders, CSC directors suggested that such modest performance targets for Lawrie and other top executives were appropriate in a year in which the company’s revenue and market were shrinking. But that approach is noticeably different than the bell curve used to evaluate the performance of front-line employees. In the executive suite, everyone can be above average and earn a bonus.Employees have certainly noticed the distinction. When the Washington Business Journal’s Jill R. Aitoro broke the story last year about the new performance metrics, it instantly became the year’s best-read story on the publication’s Web site.“Morale is at an all-time low,” one employee, Jill Dunbar, posted to the site. Although the controversial bell-curve directive was effectively rescinded, the damage was done. Competitors in the Washington area report that they have taken advantage of the surge in applications they received from CSC employees in recent years. Even Lawrie acknowledged that the company “has lost some people that we would have not liked to lose.”As employees were bailing out, however, some high-profile investors were trying to bail themselves in. Last year, two private-equity firms, including one led by Washington’s Carlyle Group (CG), approached CSC about buying the company and taking it private, according to knowledgeable sources. The board of directors hired investment bankers to help it review the proposals, but in the end decided that investors would do better to wait and realize the full benefits of the turnaround that was in progress.As rumors of the buyout offers began to circulate on Wall Street, CSC also attracted the attention of a number of well-known hedge funds, including Barry Rosenstein’s Jana Partners, which bought a 5.9 percent stake this year. As an “activist investor,” Rosenstein is known for pressing companies to take steps to increase the stock price by boosting dividends and selling or spinning off divisions. He found a sympathetic ear in Lawrie, who served a brief stint at an “activist” hedge fund and who says he had been waiting for the right moment to take just such steps.That moment came in May, when CSC announced that it would spin off its federal contracting division as a separate company, taking with it about one-third of its revenue and employees. All shareholders will receive shares in the new company, along with a special $10.50 dividend paid for with $1.5 billion in new debt. Both firms will be headquartered in Falls Church.The announcement of the split has triggered yet another round of buyout interest as private-equity firms and rival contractors consider making an offer for the public sector division, according to individuals in the industry.In opting to split itself in two, CSC is following a path trod by Washington-area firms Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) and SAIC. Although each situation is somewhat different, the common thread is the instinct to separate the “boring” old low-margin, low-growth business from a sexier new high-growth, high-margin business. So far, the results have been mixed. At Booz Allen, the government contracting has thrived while the management consulting firm floundered badly before it was acquired by PricewaterhouseCoopers. SAIC’s government IT business seems to have stabilized, but its intelligence and health-care division, now called Leidos (LDOS), had been floundering until last week, when it won part of a $4.3 billion contract to create an electronic health-records system for the Pentagon.CSC’s rationale for the split is that government and commercial contracting have different cultures and financial profiles, with each requiring a focused management team.The commercial division is scrambling to adapt to a market in which its big corporate customers are no longer interested in paying a premium to have one firm, using custom-designed software and dedicated hardware, provide all of its IT needs. In the newer model, the work is broken into smaller chunks, with some of the programming brought back in-house and greater use made of shared hardware and standardized software that is bought on a cheaper, pay-as-you-go basis. This rapid commoditization of the IT service business has dramatically reduced revenue and profits.Late in responding to the transition, and lacking the financial resources to invest in new technologies, CSC has teamed up with cloud providers such as Amazon, software companies like Microsoft (MSFT), and network operators such as AT&T (T) to upgrade its offerings, while making targeted investments in hot new areas such as cybersecurity and cloud computing. A new joint venture with Britain’s HCL, announced in late July, promises to boost CSC’s historically strong position in banking software.But so far, the old business continues to shrink faster than the new business has grown, with new contract awards last year down from the year before. In a recent conference call with investors, Lawrie acknowledged that it has taken longer than he expected for the company’s investments in new offerings to translate into new revenue.The “boring old government contracting business,” meanwhile, appears to be doing relatively better, despite a shrinking federal contracting market. Revenue last year fell only slightly, while the division’s operating profit margins hit 14 percent, among the highest in the industry. But a rebound is hardly assured. New contract awards last year fell by one-third to $2.9 billion, half of what they were in 2012 and 75 percent of last year’s annual revenue. And attracting the right talent continues to be a problem: At the moment, the division has about 1,000 open positions.Although he has a habit of exaggerating how bad things were when he arrived at CSC, and is eager to rattle off all the progress that’s been made, Mike Lawrie is not declaring victory just yet. Even after the split, he’ll remain closely involved with both companies — at one as chief executive, at the other as executive chairman — to finish what he’s started.“We’ve turned the company around — we’re in no danger of bankruptcy,” he said. “Now we’re transforming it. But that will be a much longer process.”






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    After a stellar start to 2015 the tide has turned against US high-yield issuers, leading to a breakdown in the primary market as investors have become far more sensitive to risk. Prime Healthcare shelved a US$700m eight-year bond deal this week, while renewable energy name TerraForm Global raised its yield on a US$800m seven-year by some 300bp during bookbuild.

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    * FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.1 pct. * Index up 4 pct for July after June losses. * Merger hopes help German stocks outperform. * Commodities shares track weaker oil, metals. * UCB, BNP Paribas, Natixis up after results. By Atul Prakash.