The technology business week: Aer Lingus grounds talk of San Francisco direct flights; Disney shuts LucasArts

8 Apr 2013

Aer Lingus dismisses rumours of San Francisco direct flights as speculation

A digest of the top business technology news stories from the past week.

Aer Lingus dismisses rumours of San Francisco direct flights as speculation

Aer Lingus has dismissed rumours that it plans to resume its schedule to San Francisco as speculation. It had been rumoured last week that the airliner would reveal plans to re-introduce direct flights to San Francisco by the autumn.

“Our transatlantic schedule for 2014 will not be finalised until June of this year, at the earliest,” a spokesman told

“No decision has been made at this point in time.”

San Francisco is home to Silicon Valley, where the majority of tech companies that have invested heavily in Ireland, including Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and many others have their headquarters.

Disney pulls the plug on LucasArts

Only six months after acquiring the games developer, the Walt Disney Company is shutting down LucasArts, the firm behind the Star Wars and Monkey Island series of games.

In October, Disney bought Lucasfilm for US$4bn in a deal that included all of the company’s subsidiaries, including Lucasfilm Animation and its video-games arm LucasArts.  

Disney now plans to license the Star Wars games brand to other developers, BBC News Online reported.

The closure of LucasArts will include job losses, but a small team out of the 150 staff will remain to work on licensing partnerships.

Internal development on games that had been announced, such as Star Wars 1313 and First Assault, have ceased, but the company is evaluating its options in terms of having those games completed by an outside developer, Wired reported.

Nokia closes flagship store in Shanghai, China

Nokia shoppers in Shanghai, China, will have to buy the company’s mobile devices at retailers and mobile carriers, now that Nokia has closed what it had deemed its largest store in the world, in an effort to save costs.

China’s retailers and mobile carriers will now sell Nokia’s feature phones and smartphones.

“Nokia is focusing on growing its presence in operator and third-party retail outlets, rather than through our own physical stores,” Nokia spokesperson Brett Young told ZDNet.

“We are, of course, also continuously beefing up our online presence. With this in mind, our store in Shanghai was closed on 31 March.”

Verizon denies joint plans with AT&T to bid for Vodafone in €200bn mega merger

US telecoms player Verizon has blasted speculation that it plans to co-operate with AT&T in a bid to buy UK telecoms giant Vodafone in a transaction rumoured to be worth in excess of €200bn.

The Financial Times had initially reported that Verizon was looking at working with AT&T as part of a €200bn bid that would see Verizon get back its 45pc stake in Verizon Wireless while AT&T would take over the rest of the company.

However, while Verizon has denied plans to work with AT&T, it would still like to get back the 45pc stake that Vodafone holds in the company.

Accenture acquires ChangeTrack Research

Technology consulting firm Accenture has snapped up ChangeTrack Research, a provider of analytics-based tools and services for change management, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition is to help Accenture’s clients better measure and monitor the progress of their change programmes.

Warren Parry, CEO of ChangeTrack Research, said the deal brings together “the powerful combination of ChangeTrack Research’s analytical approaches to managing change with Accenture’s deep expertise delivering large-scale transformation programmes for global clients.”

HP board chairman Raymond J Lane and two directors to step down

Computer maker HP’s acquisition of software firm Autonomy has appeared to come back to haunt its chairman of the board, Raymond J Lane, who is to step down from the role, in addition to directors John H Hammergren and G Kennedy Thompson also leaving the board.

In the interim, director Ralph V Whitworth will replace Lane, who will remain on the board. Thompson and Hammergren will remain on the board until the board meeting in May.

Shareholders had sought to unseat Lane, Hammergren and Thompson in a proxy vote at HP’s shareholder meeting in San Jose, California, last month, because of Lane’s involvement in HP’s US$11bn allegedly bungled acquisition of Autonomy, reported AllThingsD.

Fifty-nine per cent of shareholders voted to keep Lane on the board, but The Wall Street Journal reported that Lane was uneasy with the margin and chose to leave the chairmanship.

The board has begun seeking a permanent non-executive board chairman, as well as two or more new independent directors.

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