In Brief: Ikea Linked to Forced Labor, Google Gives for Green Buildings, Nike to Sell Cole Haan

• Fast furniture giant Ikea knowingly benefited from forced labor in the former East Germany to manufacture some of its products in the 1980s, according to an Ernst & Young investigation commissioned by the company. “Even though Ikea Group took steps to secure that prisoners were not used in production, it is now clear that these measures were not effective enough,” the company said in a statement released Friday. A related investigation into purchase practices in Cuba (as trade with Cuba was supposedly initiated by the former GDR state trade organization) concluded that Ikea has never had any long-term business relations with suppliers in Cuba and found no evidence that the IKEA Group was aware of the possible use of political prisoners in Cuba.

• Google is pitching in for greener buildings. The company is donating $3 million to the U.S. Green Building Council. The grant, announced Wednesday at the annual Greenbuild International Conference in San Francisco, will help to transform the building materials industry and accelerate the creation of healthier indoor environments. “Working with Google enables us to broaden our efforts in the materials industry as we prepare for the next version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4,” said USGBC president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “This updated rating system will paint a more complete picture of materials and products, enabling project teams to make more informed decisions.” The Google funding will support research on building materials and health, development of transparency tools, and engagement of stakeholders from across the industry.

• Nike has inked a deal to unload Cole Haan. The buyer is private equity firm Apax Partners, which has agreed to pay $570 million for the 84-year-old footwear and accessories brand. The deal, expected to close early next year, is part of Nike’s move to focus on its Nike, Jordan, Converse, and Hurley brands. The company sold Umbro last month to Iconix Brand Group for $225 million.

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