Tuesday, February 2, 2010

WSJ & NYT Feb. 3 Top News

Ron Burkle Seeks 37% of Barnes & Noble
Activist investor Ron Burkle sent a letter to Barnes & Noble Inc. seeking to acquire as much as 37% of the company, up from his current stake of 19%, and blasting the book retailer for having different sets of anti-takeover rules for big investors: one applying to insiders and one applying to outsiders.

Gannett reports fourth quarter profit

Gannett Co. returned to the black for the fourth quarter, helped by lower expenses and no big writedowns as it had in the year-earlier period. The publisher of USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers saw advertising slide another 18%, but the drop wasn't as steep as last year's, and was characterized as a stabilization.

Battle over UK cigarette packaging heats up
Tobacco companies are digging in to fight a possible U.K. ban on one of their last marketing tools: cigarette packaging.The U.K.'s Department of Health said Monday that it would consider mandating generic packaging for all cigarettes as part of an aggressive campaign to halve smoking rates by 2020.
Such packs would be white or brown with the brand name written in simple type and no logos or colors allowed. The packs would continue to carry large health warnings.

AIG Plan to Pay $100 million in bonuses draws fire
The American International Group has agreed to cut employee bonuses by $20 million and will distribute about $100 million on Wednesday, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. But the reductions may not be enough to appease the company’s critics, who do not accept the company’s argument that it has to honor contracts from before its government bailout. 

 Time Warner Posts Fourth Quarter Profit
Time Warner Inc. moved back into the black for the fourth quarter, rebounding from a large write-down a year earlier and benefiting from strength in its film and television businesses.The media giant also raised its quarterly dividend 13% to 21.25 cents a share. That move comes a day after competitor News Corp. raised its six-month dividend for both classes of its stock by 25%.

Home Builders Cut Prices, Warn about Foreclosures
LAS VEGAS—Home builders have lost half their share of the U.S. housing market in the past two years, largely because of competition from cheap foreclosed houses. In 2009 only 7.6% of the homes sold were newly constructed, down from the average of about 16% over the previous two decades.
But home builders are fighting back, cutting prices, promising to complete homes faster, and warning about the risks of buying foreclosed property.

Toyota's Troubles Deepen
Toyota Motor Corp.'s quality crisis deepened Tuesday, as U.S. regulators accused the company of dragging its feet on fixing defective gas pedals and threatened civil penalties and further reviews of Toyota products.
The move means that Toyota's efforts to address its biggest-ever safety and public-relations mess are far from over. Last week, the administration indicated it had no issues with how Toyota had responded to the sudden-acceleration reports, which led the company to recall about six million vehicles and have been linked to at least five fatalities.

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