Three days after announcing its new chairman, mortgage giant Freddie Mac has agreed to a $125 million settlement of the federal inquiry into its management lapses, The Washington Post reported. Under a consent decree with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the Post said the publicly chartered company will not be required to admit guilt but must implement tighter controls over accounting and improve its public-disclosure record. The nation's second-largest buyer of home mortgages also is the focus of a civil inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The multibillion-dollar merger of Yukos and Sibneft, the two largest oil companies in Russia, suspended by the latter Nov. 28, now is dead, the Financial Times reported, citing a source close to the matter. The merger, the largest in Russian history, reportedly was worth as much as $11 billion. The newspaper said Sibneft chief Roman Abramovich, who reaped $3 billion in cash for his personal stake in the company, will be required to pay it back. Analysts said the breakup opens the door to Western oil giants such as ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and France's TotalFina Elf to renew their pursuit of mergers with the Russian companies.
Wal-Mart has bid $3.5 billion for 70 stores in Britain's Safeway supermarket chain, The Times (London) reported. It said the offer was extended through Asda Group Ltd., a Wal-Mart subsidiary and the No. 2 food-retailing chain in Britain. Safeway also is being pursued by rival retailer Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC, the only suitor with regulatory approval to bid for its entire 480-store chain, the Times said.
As many as 4,000 more jobs will be cut by the end of the fourth quarter by SBC Communications Inc., the nation's No. 2 telephone company said. The company hinted at such a move last month in announcing it would close several of its call centers, but did not offer specifics. SBC, based in San Antonio, Texas, will achieve its target through buyouts and attrition rather than layoffs, a spokesman said. Over the past two years it has cut 28,000 jobs.