Reshuffling Citigroup, Weighing Northern Rock
October 12, 2007
NEWS AT A GLANCE
Citigroup shakes things up
Financial services giant Citigroup announced a major restructuring late yesterday, merging its key investment banking and alternative investing units under one executive. The bank also said that Thomas Maheras, a head of Citigroup’s investment bank and a favorite to succeed embattled CEO Charles Prince, was departing. (The New York Times, free registration required) Maheras oversaw the unit that booked a $5.9 billion write-down last week. “The company could have managed the turbulent credit markets better than it did, and obviously they’re making personnel changes to address the problem,” said PNC Wealth Management analyst Mark Batty. (Bloomberg)
Virgin eying Northern Rock
Britain’s Virgin Group said it is weighing a bid for ailing bank Northern Rock, joining an increasingly crowded field of potential suitors. Northern Rock’s shares rose 2.5 percent this morning on the news. The other reputed bidders include U.S. private equity firms Blackstone Group, Apollo Management, Lone Star, J.C. Flowers, and Cerberus. (The Wall Street Journal) With Virgin in the bidding, “we appear to have strayed into ’you couldn’t make it up’ territory,” says BBC business editor Robert Preston. Whoever takes over the bank will have to refinance Northern Rock’s 13 billion pounds in emergency loans from the Bank of England. (BBC News)
Taking cough syrup from a baby
Drugmakers pulled cold medicine for infants and toddlers under age 2 off the market yesterday, a week before the FDA is set to hold hearings on the products. The medicines are of dubious effectiveness on kids that young, and have been linked to 54 child deaths between 1969 and 2006. (USA Today) Doctors recommend that parents use older remedies instead, like using suction bulbs to clear children’s noses. “If you can actually pull a booger out with a suction device, people can feel better,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore’s public health commissioner. (AP in Yahoo! Finance)
Poland’s speedreading fetish
While TV viewers in most countries have come to expect ever-higher production values, Poland dubs its imported shows with monotone voice-overs. The use of “lektors”—voice-over artists who read all the dialogue in a show by themselves, deadpan—is a holdover from the Soviet era. But while it has fallen out of favor in other former Eastern Bloc countries, Poles won’t accept more conventional dubbing. Lektoring is popular among foreign TV distributors, too. “It doesn’t seem right to Westerners,” says Costa Kotsianis of London-based Hippeis Media Ltd. “But the very good lektors can record a whole show in one take. It saves a lot of money.” (The Wall Street Journals)
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