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Tickers: April 8

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Deere & Co. announced today that 160 employees at the John Deere Des Moines Works plant in Ankeny will be placed on indefinite layoff, effective April 27. Deere said in a release that the layoffs are due to reduced market demand for the factory’s products and will affect production workers with the least seniority. Just last week, Deere announced that 40 employees at the John Deere Ottumwa Works would be placed on indefinite layoff, effective April 20.

Iowa State University (ISU) has filled the three dean positions in its colleges of design, engineering and human sciences. Luis Rico-Gutierrez, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and David Lewis Director of the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, will become dean of the College of Design, effective July 1. Jonathan Wickert, ISU mechanical engineering chair and the Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will become dean of the College of Engineering, also effective July 1. Pam White, ISU professor of food science and human nutrition and interim dean of the College of Human Sciences, will become permanent dean, effective April 16.

Pulte Homes Inc. announced today that it has agreed to acquire Centex Corp. in a stock-for-stock deal that is valued at $1.3 billion, the Associated Press reported. The acquisition will create the nation’s largest homebuilding company and will give the combined businesses a liquidity position with more than $3.4 billion in cash as of March 31. Centex shareholders will receive 0.975 shares of Pulte stock for each share of Centex they own. The transaction is valued at $10.50 per Centex share based on Pulte’s Tuesday closing stock price of $10.77. Centex had approximately 124.4 million shares outstanding for the quarter ended Dec. 31. The combined company will be based in Pulte’s hometown of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Wells Fargo & Co. increased its charitable nonprofit donations by 11 percent last year to $102 million. When combined with Wachovia Corp., total giving increased by 5 percent to $226 million in 2008.

Dice Holdings Inc. announced yesterday that it will host a conference call on April 23 at 7:30 a.m. Iowa time to discuss the company’s first-quarter financial results. Scot Melland, chairman, president and CEO, will host the call along with Michael Durney, senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer. The conference call can be accessed by dialing (866) 277-1181 and entering the code 85022218. First-quarter results will be issued prior to the conference call that morning.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said today its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both home purchases and the refinancing of loans, increased 4.7 percent to 1,250.6, for the week ended April 3, Reuters reported. The four-week moving average of mortgage applications, which smooths the volatile weekly figures, was up 13.3 percent.

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