The news at a glance

Toyota: Recall tarnishes a golden reputation; Retailing: A bargain-conscious Black Friday; Automobiles: Saab deal goes south; Insurance: AIG and Greenberg bury the hatchet; Media: GE moves closer to selling NBC

Toyota: Recall tarnishes a golden reputation

Toyota Motor said last week it would replace the accelerator pedals on 4 million Toyota and Lexus models because they could cause sudden, unintended accelerations, said Greg Gardner in the Detroit Free Press. Runaway accelerations have “allegedly caused more than a dozen fatalities and resulted in more than 100 formal complaints” to federal regulators. Toyota will shorten the pedals and install new brakes on many of the recalled vehicles. The company is also recalling 110,000 Tundra pick-ups to treat undercarriage rust.

The recalls are “a humbling comedown” for the world’s largest carmaker, said Martin Zimmerman in the Los Angeles Times. Some experts worry that Toyota’s rapid expansion in the past decade has come “at the expense of the company’s legendary engineering and quality-control prowess.” The shifting explanations for the sudden accelerations haven’t helped. Toyota first said that they occurred when the pedal became stuck under a misaligned floor mat. It backed off that claim after some drivers reported that the sudden accelerations occurred when they inadvertently stepped on both the brake and the accelerator or when their cars were being operated by cruise control.

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Retailing: A bargain-conscious Black Friday

More consumers than last year “flooded the nation’s stores on Thanksgiving weekend,” but they spent less per person, said Stephanie Rosenbloom in The New York Times. The National Retail Federation reported that 195 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend, up from 172 million last year, spending $343.71 per person, down from $372.57 in 2008. Retailers said that most shoppers headed straight for heavily discounted items, looking for “a deal that was too good to pass up.”

Automobiles: Saab deal goes south

General Motors’ deal to sell Saab to Swedish specialty carmaker Koenigsegg fell through last week, said Chris Isidore in The prospective buyer said that “the complexity of the deal made it impossible to bring it to a timely conclusion.” Sweden-based Saab is one of the brands that GM said it would shed as part of its reorganization earlier this year. But another buyer might be waiting in the wings. China’s Beijing Automotive Industry says it will decide within days whether to make an offer.

Insurance: AIG and Greenberg bury the hatchet

Bailed-out insurer AIG and its ousted former chairman have agreed to make peace, said Hugh Son in Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, 84, who built AIG into the world’s largest insurer during his four-decade reign, was embroiled in “a tangle of lawsuits” with his former company over his dismissal in 2005 amid a multibillion-dollar accounting scandal. Greenberg and AIG have now agreed to settle all litigation against each other, and AIG will reimburse Greenberg for as much as $150 million in legal fees.

Media: GE moves closer to selling NBC

General Electric this week agreed to pay French media conglomerate Vivendi $5.8 billion for its 20 percent stake in NBC Universal, clearing the way for GE to transfer control of the television network to Comcast, said Tim Arango and Bill Carter in The New York Times. In the complex deal’s next stage, Comcast plans to combine its cable channels with NBC Universal’s properties. Comcast would own 51 percent of the combined operation and, over a period of several years, buy out GE’s 49 percent stake.

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