Archive for September, 2010

Stranded actor Paul Hogan in Australia tax deal (Reuters)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 | Finance News

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Actor Paul Hogan, star of the "Crocodile Dundee" movies, has struck a deal with Australia's tax office which will allow him to return home to his family in Los Angeles, his lawyer said on Friday.

Hogan, 70, has been barred from leaving Australia for nearly two weeks after the Australian Taxation Office served him with a departure-prohibition order while he was in the country to attend his 101-year-old mother's funeral.

The office has refused to comment on reports that it was seeking tax on A$38 million ($34 million) of allegedly undeclared income from Hogan, saying it does not give details of individual taxpayers. The actor has publicly protested his innocence.

But his lawyer Andrew Robinson said on Friday that Hogan's representatives and the tax office had reached an agreement after "a cordial and co-operative meeting."

"Mr Hogan is pleased to announce that the parties have reached agreement on terms (which include the provision of security) which will allow Mr Hogan to return to his family," Robinson said in a statement.

"While the Commissioner and Mr Hogan remain in dispute on more general taxation issues, Mr Hogan continues to protest his innocence and denies any wrongdoing."

No more details on the settlement were immediately available, nor was it known when Hogan would leave Australia to return to his wife and son in the United States.

Hogan has been in a dispute with the tax office for five years and is under investigation as part of Australia's biggest probe into offshore tax evasion, Operation Wickenby.

The tax office has claimed he put tens of millions of dollars in film royalties in offshore tax havens, a claim that he has denied. He has never been charged with tax evasion.

A popular Australian TV comedian, Hogan hit international fame as Mick "Crocodile" Dundee in the 1986 film "Crocodile Dundee" which went on to become Australia's most successful film ever and won Hogan a Golden Globe for best actor.

Two sequels followed and Hogan married his co-star, Linda Kozlowski, which was his second marriage.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman)

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Walgreen August same-store sales rise 2.1 percent (AP)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 | Finance News

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. reported same-store-sales rose 2.1 percent for August on Friday, just shy of Wall Street estimates.

Such sales are considered a key measurement of retailer health because they exclude results from stores that have been acquired, opened or closed over the last year. The sales figure doesn't don't include Duane Reade, which was acquired in April.

Total sales in August, which include Duane Reade stores, rose 8.6 percent to $5.66 billion.

Front-end same-store sales rose just under 1 percent while total front-end sales rose 8.3 percent. Pharmacy same-store sales rose 2.9 percent while total pharmacy sales rose 8.6 percent.

The company said a calendar day shift positively impacted the August results.

For Walgreen's fourth quarter, which ended Aug. 31, total sales rose 7.6 percent to $16.89 billion while same-store sales rose 1.5 percent. For the full fiscal year, total sales rose 6.5 percent to $67.44 billion, while same-store sales rose 1.6 percent.

Walgreen is the largest U.S. drugstore chain. It opened 27 stores and closed eight in August. At the end of the month it ran 7,563 drugstores nationwide. It also has almost 500 work site health centers and other facilities and pharmacies.

Shares of Walgreen slipped a penny to $28.29 in midday trading Friday.

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Obama says to address new economic ideas next week (Reuters)

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will outline new measures next week to boost the U.S. economy after August data on Friday showed again that jobs -- the central issue in November elections -- were being created too slowly.

Obama, speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden, greeted a better-than-expected August employment report that showed thousands of new private sector jobs were created as "positive news."

But he said the numbers were not good enough and more needed to be done to address U.S. economic woes.

The White House is under pressure to show tangible results in lifting growth and hiring before congressional elections in November, when Obama's Democrats face punishment from voters anxious about near double-digit unemployment.

"I will be addressing a broader package of ideas next week," Obama said. "We are confident that we are moving in the right direction. But we want to keep this recovery moving stronger and accelerate the job growth that is needed so desperately all across the country."

On Monday, the president highlighted a number of possible options including extending middle class tax cuts, investing in clean energy, spending more on infrastructure, and delivering more tax cuts to businesses to encourage hiring.

The White House declined to give more specifics about the measures and a spokeswoman said final decisions had not been made.

"We need to take further steps to create jobs and keep the economy growing, including extending tax cuts for the middle class and investing in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest," Obama said.

"In the weeks ahead, I'll be discussing some of these ideas in more detail."

Obama will have ample opportunity to flesh out those thoughts next week. He is planning to travel to Milwaukee on Monday, the Labor Day holiday, and will visit Cleveland on Wednesday. He will also hold a White House news conference on Friday, September 10.

The August employment report earlier showed a bigger-than- expected rise of 67,000 in private payrolls, while unemployment inched up a tenth of a percentage point to 9.6 percent.

Overall, U.S. nonfarm payrolls fell 54,000 as temporary jobs to conduct the decennial census dropped by 114,000.

"Jobs are being created. They're just not being created as fast as they need to, given the big hole that we experienced," Obama said.

"We're going to have to continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to come up with ideas that can further accelerate that job growth. I'm confident that we can do that."

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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