Business News Roundup, Dec. 7

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Verizon Communications has agreed to sell its data center business to Equinix of Redwood City for $3.6 billion in cash as the company turns its focus to mobile video advertising. Equinix operates as a real estate investment trust, mostly holding interconnected data centers. The sale to Equinix, which is expected to close in the middle of next year, would help replenish Verizon’s cash after its planned acquisition of Yahoo and its bids for coveted airwaves in a federal auction. Hewlett Packard Enterprise has countersued Rhode Island over an unfinished project to build a new computer system for the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. WPRI-TV reported that HP Enterprise has asked a state Superior Court judge to dismiss the state’s lawsuit against it. Rhode Island sued the company last month after it threatened to walk off the job unless it received more money for the long-delayed project. In its court filing, HP Enterprise disputes the contention that the original agreement required it to deliver a fully functional system. SeaWorld Entertainment announced Tuesday it is cutting 320 positions from throughout the company, part of a continuing effort to sharply cut its costs. The announcement comes almost two years to the day since the Orlando company announced its last round of layoffs, which then affected more than 300 employees. In an email, SeaWorld said the layoffs are part of a restructuring program focused on reducing costs, increasing efficiencies, reducing duplication of functions and improving the company’s operations through proven benchmarks. A company spokeswoman said the cuts will be a combination of layoffs and vacant positions. Ikea’s U.S. division is offering longer parental leave to employees who are new parents, following similar overtures from tech companies as it strives to keep good workers in an improving job market. The furniture chain said Tuesday it will offer about 12,000 salaried and hourly employees in the U.S. up to four months of paid parental leave. Ikea had previously given five days of paid leave to women giving birth, in addition to six to eight weeks of paid disability leave. Paid maternity and paternity leave in the U.S. lags behind standards established elsewhere. Imports of consumer goods including medicine, cell phones and clothing increased, while exports of soybeans tumbled, fueling the widening of the trade gap. Sushovan Hussain, the former chief financial officer of Autonomy, is headed to the U.S. to face charges he schemed to inflate the price of Autonomy’s $11 billion takeover by Hewlett-Packard in 2011. Hussain’s lawyer, John Keker, told a federal judge that his client is eager to go to trial and will travel from England for his arraignment, scheduled for Jan. 12 in San Francisco.