The news at a glance
Chrysler: Judge clears sale to Fiat; Insurance: Prudential turns down bailout money; Travel: Online agencies eliminate fees; Retailing: Target wins a proxy fight; Investing: Pequot Capital calls it quits
Chrysler: Judge clears sale to FiatA federal bankruptcy judge this week approved Chrysler’s request to sell most of its operations to Italy’s Fiat, said Steve Gelsi in Marketwatch.com. The $2 billion transaction, in which the proceeds will flow to Chrysler’s secured creditors, clears the way for Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy protection just a month after filing for Chapter 11. Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli will resign, turning over management responsibility to Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne. The fast-track bankruptcy, President Obama said, would allow Chrysler to emerge as “a new, stronger, more competitive company for the future.”
Fiat’s Marchionne hit a roadblock in Europe, however, where he was trying to acquire General Motors’ European arm, said John Reed in the Financial Times. After a weeks-long bidding war, the German government awarded GM’s Opel to Magna International, a Canadian parts supplier. Magna prevailed by promising the German government and trade unions that it would “limit German job losses.” Marchionne had warned that under Fiat, Opel would have to shed 8,000 to 9,000 jobs.
Insurance: Prudential turns down bailout moneyU.S. life insurer Prudential has decided to forgo billions in federal bailout funds, “after a share rally made it easier to tap private investors,” said Andrew Frye and Erik Holm in Bloomberg.com. Prudential applied for a bailout in October, but since then stock and bond markets have rallied, “allowing insurers to brace for more defaults” by raising capital from private investors. The insurer has posted more than $11 billion in losses since the subprime meltdown began in 2007.
Travel: Online agencies eliminate feesWith air travel in the doldrums, online travel agencies Travelocity and Orbitz Worldwide have eliminated airline-ticket booking fees, said Sarah Nassauer in The Wall Street Journal. The fees, which usually range from $7 to $12 per ticket, “are a valuable source of revenue for online travel agencies.” The loss of the fees may be partly offset “by increased commissions paid by airlines and by travelers buying other services, such as hotel and car-rental reservations.”
Retailing: Target wins a proxy fightTarget shareholders have turned back activist investor William Ackman’s two-year-long attempt to oust the retailer’s board of directors, said Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times. Ackman conceded defeat in an emotional speech at Target’s annual meeting last week. Ackman’s attack on Target “has been a real head-scratcher.” Activists usually go after badly managed companies, which certainly does not describe Target—“about the only big-box retailer that has figured out how to compete successfully against Wal-Mart.”
Investing: Pequot Capital calls it quitsPequot Capital has gone out of business, amid “an off-again, on-again insider trading investigation” of the hedge fund, said Gregory Zuckerman and Kara Scannell in The Wall Street Journal. The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into “allegations that founder Arthur Samberg may have engaged in insider trading in Microsoft stock.” The SEC shut down an earlier probe of Pequot in 2006, prompting accusations by congressional Democrats of a coverup. Samberg was a major fundraiser for President George W. Bush.