REAL ESTATE

Dunkin’ Donuts to enter Southern California; signs agreements for 45 locations

BY Marianne Wilson

Canton, Mass. — Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it has signed its first Southern California multi-unit store development agreements, with four franchise groups for a total commitment of 45 locations.

The first restaurants are expected to open in 2015 in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Some non-traditional Dunkin’ Donuts locations may open over the next several months.

“We have had an overwhelming response by prospective franchisees interested in opening Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in Southern California, and we are delighted to see both existing and new franchisee groups, each of whom has tremendous business experience, bring Dunkin’ Donuts to The Golden State," said Paul Twohig, president, Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. & Canada. "Our continued focus on franchisee profitability and restaurant economics has made our long-awaited expansion into California possible, and we continue to believe that Dunkin’ Donuts has tremendous domestic growth opportunities both east and west of the Mississippi."

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FINANCE

J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven among companies targeted in massive hacking scheme

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Five individuals have been charged with running a sophisticated, worldwide hacking organization that the U.S. Department of Justice called the largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States. The victims in the scheme included such retailers as J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven Inc., Carrefour and Hannaford Brothers Co.

A federal indictment made public Thursday in New Jersey charges five men — four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian — in the scheme that, over the course of seven years, targeted major corporate networks and stole more than 160 million credit-card numbers. All five are charged with taking part in a computer hacking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The four Russian nationals are also charged with multiple counts of unauthorized computer access and wire fraud.

Other companies that were victimized included electronic stock exchange Nasdaq, JetBlue, Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and the Belgium bank Dexia Bank Belgium.

The individuals who purchased the credit and debit card numbers and associated data from the hacking organization resold them through online forums or directly to others known as “cashers,” according to the indictment, with U.S. credit card numbers selling for about $10 each; Canadian numbers were $15 and European ones $50.

The data was stored on computer servers all over the world, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands, Bahamas, Ukraine, Panama and Germany, the Associated Press said.

The cashers would encode the information onto the magnetic strips of blank plastic cards and cash out the value, by either withdrawing money from ATMs in the case of debit cards, or running up charges and purchasing goods in the case of credit cards.

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FINANCE

Private investment firm to acquire Alco Stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Abilene, Kan. — Alco Stores Inc. has entered into an agreement to be acquired by private investment firm Argonne Capital Group LLC.

The Atlanta-based Argonne will acquire all the outstanding share of Alco’s common stock for $14 per share in cash. The proposed transaction, expected to close later year, would total about $47 million.

Alco’s board of directors has unanimously approved the merger agreement and is recommending that shareholders approve it.

"ALCO looks forward to partnering with Argonne, and we believe the support they will provide will accelerate the Company’s plans for sustained growth,” said Alco CEO Rich Wilson.

Alco, formerly known as Duckwall-Alco, is in the process of moving its headquarters from Abilene, Kan., to the Dallas suburb of Coppell. The company has 213 stores, mostly in small towns, in 23 states selling home furnishings, outdoor products, electronics sporting goods and clothing.

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