• BofA Breakup Is New Snag in CEO Hunt
  • Bernanke to defend his record and the Fed’s
  • Bernanke Has Support of Majority of Senators on Banking Panel
  • SEC Steps Up Insider-Trading Probes
  • U.S. Taxpayers May Reap $3.17 Billion in TARP Warrant Auctions
  • GM fires CEO Henderson. The board wants an outsider.
  • Rothstein Charged in Ponzi Scheme
  • Wells Fargo to shut 122 branches in state
  • Merrill Sued by Client in Hong Kong Over $13 Million in Losses
  • FTC to Examine Possible Support of News Organizations
  • Comcast-NBC Deal Would Face ‘Gauntlet’ of Regulators
  • Comcast, NBC aim to ease feds’ concerns
  • Discover Poll Shows Consumers Remain Pessimistic In November
  • Shoppers Make a Selective Return

BofA Breakup Is New Snag in CEO Hunt – Wall Street Journal

At least two candidates for the top job at Bank of America Corp. told directors that the giant bank should consider breaking itself up, but board members in charge of the CEO search have rejected the idea at least for now, according to people familiar with the situation.

The board’s reluctance to make sweeping changes to the Charlotte, N.C., bank’s structure is the latest obstacle to emerge in efforts to find a successor to Kenneth D. Lewis, who is retiring as chief executive at year’s end. Several self-imposed deadlines have come and gone, with directors now working to make a decision as soon as they can, people familiar with the process said……

Bernanke to defend his record and the Fed’s – Reuters

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke vowed before taking office to follow in the footsteps of his storied predecessor, Alan Greenspan, but he will likely distance himself from the past as he seeks a second term.

After a devastating financial crisis and deep recession that eliminated 7.3 million U.S. jobs and cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out banks and financial firms, political friends of the Fed seem few and far between….

Bernanke Has Support of Majority of Senators on Banking Panel – Bloomberg

Ben S. Bernanke has the backing of a majority of U.S. senators on the Banking Committee for a second term as Federal Reserve chairman.

Eight Democrats and four Republicans, among the 23 lawmakers on the panel overseeing the central bank, made their views known in interviews, comments to reporters or written statements. Some said they will support Bernanke, while others said they’re leaning in his favor…..

SEC Steps Up Insider-Trading Probes – Wall Street Journal

The Securities and Exchange Commission has sent at least three dozen subpoenas to hedge funds and brokerages within the past month in an expanding sweep of potential insider-trading violations, according to people familiar with the matter.

At least some of the inquiries are focused on potential information leaks around health-care mergers of the past three years, these people said. Some retail-industry deals also are a subject of the SEC inquiries, these people said, including Sears Holdings Corp.’s aborted pursuit of home-furnishings retailer Restoration Hardware in 2007…..

U.S. Taxpayers May Reap $3.17 Billion in TARP Warrant Auctions – Bloomberg

U.S. taxpayers may reap $3.17 billion from the first auctions of warrants demanded by the government for bailing out banks, including Capital One Financial Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and TCF Financial Corp.

“This is definitely the best possible outcome for taxpayers,” Linus Wilson, the University of Louisiana finance professor who provided the estimate, said yesterday after the Treasury Department started auctioning 12.7 million warrants in Capital One, the McLean, Virginia-based credit-card lender….

GM fires CEO Henderson. The board wants an outsider. – BusinessWeek

The new General Motors Board has struck. CEO Fritz Henderson is out after six months on the job. Now the commentariat will start questioning whether it’s a fair decision. And really, it wasn’t. He had just three months to prove to the new board, which is led by former AT&T Chairman Ed Whitacre and a group of directors appointed mostly by the U.S. Treasury Department, that he’s the guy. In his three months since the board took over, he did stabilize market share and reduced losses significantly.

But this is one of those cases where deserve has got nothing to do with it…..

Rothstein Charged in Ponzi Scheme – Wall Street Journal

Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Scott Rothstein, accusing the once prominent Florida lawyer of running a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Rothstein, who pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday, faces five felony counts, including wire fraud and federal racketeering. He allegedly sold stakes in fictitious settlements he claimed his firm had struck in employment disputes, such as sexual harassment and whistleblower claims, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Rothstein was aided by conspirators who weren’t identified in the government’s filing…..

Wells Fargo to shut 122 branches in state – LA Times

Wells Fargo & Co. said Tuesday that it would close 122 California bank branches as a result of its takeover of Wachovia Corp. last year, mostly Wachovia offices that are smaller and less prominently located than nearby Wells Fargo branches.

The closures are scheduled to occur in April as San Francisco-based Wells Fargo puts its name on the Wachovia locations in the state that are to remain open…..

Merrill Sued by Client in Hong Kong Over $13 Million in Losses – Bloomberg

A Japanese client sued Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch & Co. in Hong Kong for alleged reckless misrepresentation in selling him warrants that resulted in losses of 1.14 million yen ($13 million).

Kozo Sugiura, who sued Merrill and its former private banker Takenori Suzuki for the losses, said he wasn’t informed that the issuers and guarantors of his investments were Merrill- related companies and that they weren’t principal protected as instructed…..

FTC to Examine Possible Support of News Organizations - Wall Street Journal

The head of the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday the agency will study whether government should aid struggling news organizations, which are suffering from a collapse in advertising revenues as the internet upends their centuries-old business model…..

Comcast-NBC Deal Would Face ‘Gauntlet’ of Regulators – Bloomberg

Comcast Corp.’s planned takeover of NBC Universal will draw scrutiny from Obama administration regulators who have said consolidation of U.S. media companies may thwart competition.

The deal became more likely after General Electric Co., NBC’s parent company, agreed yesterday to buy Vivendi SA’s 20 percent stake in NBC for $5.8 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions. The agreement paves the way for creation of an entertainment joint venture controlled by Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable company…..

Comcast, NBC aim to ease feds’ concerns – Washington Post

A merger between Comcast and NBC Universal, expected to be announced by Thursday, would probably come with concessions aimed at forestalling a drawn-out federal review of the deal, sources close to the negotiations said.

In previous major media mergers, companies have agreed to preserve local news coverage and grant competitors access to content, for example. Sources familiar with the Comcast-NBC Universal talks said such promises would probably be announced with the merger…..

Discover Poll Shows Consumers Remain Pessimistic In November – Wall Street Journal

A majority of consumers continued to be pessimistic about the economy and their personal finances, with growing concern noted among upper-income consumers, according to Discover’s U.S. Spending Monitor for November.

The monthly index, maintained by Discover Financial Services (DFS), rose a half point to 86.3 out of 100 points compared with October. The poor outlook comes November kicked off with word that the U.S. unemployment rate reached double-digits for the first time in 26 years…..

Shoppers Make a Selective Return - Wall Street Journal

Recession-scarred shoppers are finally returning to the nation’s stores, although slowly and selectively, according to data released this week.

Sales tallies for Thanksgiving weekend were softer than retailers had hoped, which means they may not post robust sales gains Thursday, when many of them report November sales at stores open a year or more…..

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