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Tickers: May 27


Most larger companies pay severance to laid-off or fired employees, human resources firm Mercer said in its annual U.S. Severance and Strategy Survey released Tuesday, and most plan to keep their current policies despite the weak economy, the Austin Business Journal reported. Mercer said 75 percent of the 400 mid-size and large firms it surveyed pay severance, but what a departing employee receives is often based on job ranking. Seventy-four percent of employers provide continuation of benefits to executives, but only 61 percent do the same for nonunion hourly workers. Sixty-nine percent offer outplacement services to executives, compared with 49 percent for clerical or technical staffers. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they have no plans to modify their current severance policies, Mercer said. Of the respondents, 52 percent said they don’t have a minimum length of service requirement for paying severance.

Bank of America Corp. today announced it has raised about $26 billion of the $34 billion the government said it would need in additional capital, MarketWatch reported. In addition to a previously announced $13.5 billion common stock sale, and about $7.3 billion raised from the sale of China Construction Bank shares, BofA said it has also added $5.9 billion via a preferred stock conversion. The company continued to reiterate that it might also sell assets such as First Republic Bank and Columbia Management Group to raise more capital.

The Iowa Department of Administrative Services announced it intends to update the master plan for the 170-acre state Capitol complex in time to present to the 2010 session of the General Assembly. The plan, which was last revised in 2000, will include sustainable design principles and recognize the history of the buildings and grounds. Residents of Iowa may take an online survey to provide feedback for the Capitol Complex 2010 Master Plan at https://www.surveymk.com/iowamasterplan. The survey will close at midnight on Sunday, May 31.

Monsanto Co. slashed its profit outlook for its third fiscal quarter this morning because of stronger-than-anticipated competition in its Roundup herbicide business, putting the company’s shares under selling pressure, MarketWatch reported. For the quarter ending May 31, the St. Louis-based agricultural products provider said it now expects to earn $1.15 a share, down sharply from its prior target range of $1.60 to $1.62 a share. The reduction caught investors off guard. Analysts polled by FactSet Research were looking for earnings of $1.61 a share, on average. For the full fiscal year, Monsanto said it expects to earn about $4.40 a share, the lowest point in its forecast range of $4.40 to $4.50 a share.

Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. and the Iowa Council for International Understanding (ICIU) will host the second dialogue of the 2009 Pioneer-ICIU International Dialogue Series on Tuesday, June 2, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Arthur Davis Conference Room, 700 Locust St.. The event will feature Yogesh Shah, associate dean of the department of global health at Des Moines University. Shah will address the question “Why Global Health?” and how Iowans are reaching out to make connections across the world.

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