The news at a glance

Comcast defends planned TWC merger; Toyota recalls 6.39 million vehicles; Takeda faces $6 billion in damages; American updates loyalty program; Regulators hike leverage ratio

Media: Comcast defends planned TWC merger

Comcast is pushing its case to merge with Time Warner Cable, said Joe Flint and Meg James in the Los Angeles Times. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission this week, the Philadelphia-based cable giant said it must merge with TWC due to “emerging competition” from firms like Google, Apple, and Netflix. Execs say the move will not harm competition—or consumers—because the companies don’t serve the same locations. But critics say “the deal would consolidate too much power in the hands of one company,” allowing it to slow Internet speeds to gain leverage and impose “hefty tolls” on third-party content providers.

Sure, the merger might not hurt competition, said John Cassidy in “But that’s only because the two companies already have monopoly cable franchises practically everywhere they operate.” Their only real competition is from satellite providers, such as DirecTV and Dish Network, and phone companies like AT&T and Verizon that don’t compete on price. And while Comcast has sought to quell critics by pledging to not abuse its power, disadvantage rivals, or tax customers, that didn’t stop the firm from inking a recent lucrative deal to improve service for Netflix, which the streaming site’s CEO described as “charging a toll.”

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Autos: Toyota recalls 6.39 million vehicles

Toyota wants its cars back, said Craig Trudell and Yuki Hagiwara in The Japanese carmaker announced a recall of 6.39 million vehicles this week, the second-largest such move in company history, after finding five types of safety hazards in top models Camry, RAV4, and Corolla. The recall “is a setback for President Akio Toyoda, who has spent years trying to restore the company’s reputation” in the wake of the 2009–10 “unintended acceleration” recalls. Experts estimate the program could cost Toyota some $589 million.

Pharma: Takeda faces $6 billion in damages

Takeda Pharmaceutical is gearing up for a fight, said Daniel Levine and Edmund Klamann in Japan’s largest drugmaker said it will contest the $6 billion in punitive damages awarded by a federal jury in Louisiana, after plaintiffs sued the firm for “concealing cancer risks associated with its Actos diabetes drug.” Legal experts say it is “unlikely that such a large award would stand” since appeals courts have a history of limiting excessive punitive damages.

Airlines: American updates loyalty program

American Airlines’ new frequent-flier program is “a mixed bag” for travelers, said Gregory Karp in Chicago Tribune. The recently merged carrier’s new policy eliminates previously imposed blackout dates on US Airways’ Dividend Miles. And AAdvantage members may get more bang for their buck, depending on when they choose to fly. “Reward redemptions that used to cost 25,000 miles one way” will now cost 20,000, 30,000, or 50,000, depending on demand. Elite members will also “receive one fewer free checked bag,” but none of the changes affect how fliers accumulate miles or “achieve elite status levels.”

Banks: Regulators hike leverage ratio

Regulators have approved a “simple rule” that could finally “rein in Wall Street,” said Peter Eavis in The New York Times. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Reserve will increase the leverage ratio, which measures a bank’s capital against its assets, from 3 percent to 5 percent. The change could force the nation’s eight largest banks to raise “an additional $68 billion to put their operations on firmer financial footing.” Lucky for them, the rule won’t take effect until 2018, which should afford ample time “to adapt and raise capital.”

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