Volkswagen: Planned Porsche Merger in Jeopardy
Volkswagen's merger with Porsche, originally set for 2011, may be put on hold because of pending U.S. lawsuits and German tax disputes. Porsche is being sued by U.S. hedge funds for allegedly manipulating markets during its failed attempt to acquire a controlling stake in VW in 2009, which ultimately resulted in a reverse takeover. Courts will decide in January whether to let the case go forward. The German companies' plans are also hampered by legal requirements that would result in higher taxation if the merger takes place before 2014. VW currently owns 49.9 percent of Porsche.
Massey Energy: Mulling a Possible Sale
Massey Energy, owner of the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia where 29 people died in an explosion last April, is considering putting itself up for sale. Shares in the Richmond (Va.)-based company—the nation's No. 6 coal producer—rose 5 percent on Oct. 19, the day The Wall Street Journal broke the news. Massey posted a loss of $88.7 million for the second quarter, due in part to repairs and anticipated legal costs resulting from the April explosion. Massey's management has warned that there will be more red ink this year. The company will be idling its underground mines for two shifts to conduct safety training, after a surprise visit by federal inspectors turned up violations.
Intel: Upgrading U.S. Facilities
On Oct. 19, Intel (INTC) announced plans to invest between $6 billion and $8 billion to upgrade its U.S. manufacturing facilities and build a new fabrication plant in Oregon. The Santa Clara (Calif.)-based chip giant is pushing to stay ahead of competitors in producing 22-nanometer microprocessors that will allow for sleeker device designs and longer battery life at lower costs. According to Intel, the new outlays will create up to 8,000 construction jobs and up to 1,000 permanent high-tech jobs.
Goldman Sachs: Taking a Pay Cut
Goldman Sachs (GS) has set aside $13.1 billion for compensation and benefits in the first nine months of the year, down 21 percent from a year earlier, as revenue fell 14 percent. The amount, equal to 43 percent of revenue, is enough to pay each of the firm's 35,400 employees $370,706 for nine months of work. That's down from an average of $527,192 for the firm's 31,700 workers in 2009. The company cut its full-year ratio of compensation to revenue to 35.8 percent, the lowest since it went public in 1999.
Allergan: Botox Approved for Migranes
Allergan (AGN) has won approval to sell its wrinkle-smoother Botox as a treatment for chronic migraine headaches in the U.S. The drug's annual sales could double, to $2.3 billion, as a result, says Sanford C. Bernstein (AB). In early October, Allergan reached a $375 million settlement with the Justice Dept. on charges that it marketed Botox for unapproved uses, including pain relief. In one independent health study, patients taking Botox suffered 9 fewer days of headaches per month, compared with 6.7 fewer for those on a placebo.
On the Move
— Aetna (AET): President Mark T. Bertolini will take the reins from CEO Ronald A. Williams next spring
— Chicago Tribune: CEO Randy Michaels resigns
— Borders (BGP): Former casino executive Scott Henry named CFO