Citigroup to pay $2 billion in class-action lawsuit

Saturday, June 11, 2005

NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc., the nation's largest financial services company, will pay $2 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit over its role in helping Enron Corp. orchestrate a massive accounting fraud that led to the energy trader's collapse. The settlement announced Friday marks the largest payout so far pledged to Enron investors. It also becomes one of the largest corporate settlements in history, but still below the $2.58 billion that New York-based Citigroup agreed to pay WorldCom Inc. investors last year.

Chevron cleared to acquire Unocal Corp.

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Trade Commission on Friday cleared the way for Chevron Corp. to acquire Unocal Corp. for $18 billion, voting 4-0 to settle a 2-year-old complaint against Unocal alleging anticompetitive practices. The settlement ends a legal fight between Unocal and the FTC over the energy company's rights to a patent for reformulated gasoline.

-- From wire reports

The regulatory agency said the key element of the settlement is Chevron's agreement not to enforce patents of a Unocal subsidiary that could have increased gasoline prices in California by over half a billion dollars a year, or almost six cents a gallon.

Northwest Airlines pushes for largest fare increase this year

MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines Corp. complained the loudest when Delta Air Lines Inc. capped many of its one-way fares at $499 in January. And on Friday, Northwest was the one to try to push those fares higher, tacking $50 each-way onto fares aimed at business travelers.

If it sticks, it'll be the largest of several fare hikes this year. Pushed by high fuel costs, airlines have been trying to raise prices this year. Some of the increases became permanent. Others fizzled because too few airlines matched them.

On Friday, Continental Airlines Inc. said it matched Northwest's move, and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines did, too, according to airfare expert Terry Trippler of AMR Corp.'s American Airlines did not match the $50 increase, but spokesman Tim Smith said they are studying it. Trippler said US Airways did not match the increase.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Apparel designer Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. said Friday that its earnings fell sharply in the fourth quarter, hurt by charges from litigation, restructuring and an alleged security breach of its computer system.

Minus the charges, however, the company's earnings came in slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates. Polo shares soared $3.55 to close at $44.11 in late trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Polo also reaffirmed its fiscal 2006 earnings outlook.

Quarterly income slipped to $23.4 million, or 22 cents per share, from $76.4 million, or 75 cents, in the year-ago period, the company said.

Setting aside one-time charges, Polo's adjusted earnings amounted to $85.1 million, or 81 cents per share. That compares with the average estimate of 80 cents per share from analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. trade deficit rose to $56.96 billion in April as a big jump in exports was swamped by record foreign oil prices and heavy American demand for imports.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that both exports and imports climbed to record levels. Imports rose 4.1 percent to $163.38 billion, led by a higher foreign oil bill.

Exports were up 3 percent to $106.42 billion, thanks to strong demand for American-made commercial aircraft, computer chips, industrial machinery and cars.

The April deficit, which was the fourth largest on record, was up a sharp 6.3 percent from a revised trade gap of $53.56 billion in March, which had been an improvement from February's record $60.12 billion deficit.

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- The European Union and China agreed Friday to limit surging Chinese textile exports, settling a dispute that threatened to cause a major trade disruption.

The agreement lays down staggered increases in Chinese textile exports over the next three years. The growth rates will rise each year through 2007, and all limits will be abandoned in 2008.

The make-or-break talks avoided a "combustible situation in a number of our member states," EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said following 10 hours of negotiations in Shanghai.

Mandelson hammered out terms of the agreement with Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai in a last-ditch attempt to avoid taking the potentially damaging dispute before the World Trade Organization.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government ran a deficit of $35.3 billion in May, a little over half the imbalance of a year ago thanks to a continuing surge in tax revenues, the Treasury Department said Friday.

The government's monthly budget report showed that the May imbalance was down 43.5 percent from an imbalance of $62.5 billion in May 2004. This year's deficit was the smallest May imbalance since a deficit of $27.9 billion in May 2001, the last year the government ran a budget surplus.

Through the first eight months of this budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $272.2 billion, an improvement of 21.4 percent from the $346.3 billion in red ink run up through the first eight months of the 2004 budget year.

LONDON (AP) -- Backed by the United States, Britain pressed the world's economic powerhouses Friday to cancel $15 billion owed by 18 poor nations and free up money to spend on health care, education and infrastructure in those struggling lands.

There was support for the plan at talks among finance ministers from the Group of Eight nations, but some reported differences on how to the finance the loan write-offs and said an agreement was unlikely before next month's meeting of G-8 leaders in Scotland.

Britain and the United States want their G-8 partners to support eventually canceling 100 percent of all debts that poor countries owe multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.61, or 0.09 percent, to 10,512.63. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 2.82, or 0.23 percent, at 1,198.11. The Nasdaq composite index lost 13.91, or 0.67 percent, to 2,063.00.

Light, sweet crude for July delivery fell 74 cents to $53.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Heating oil prices dipped 1.82 cent to $1.6074 a gallon, and gasoline futures fell 2.78 cents to $1.5436 a gallon.

Brent crude for July was down $1.15 at $52.67 a barrel on London's International Petroleum Exchange.

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