The stakes for Jim Balsillie, chairman of Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIMM), couldn't get much higher. Already under siege from rivals in the e-mail device market that RIM pioneered, Balsillie suffered a major setback on Oct. 26 when the U.S. Supreme Court refused his request to freeze proceedings in a patent fight.
That brings the potential shutdown of BlackBerry e-mail service and the halt of sales in the U.S. a step closer. RIM requested the emergency stay pending review by the high court of its four-year-old dispute with NTP, a private holding company.
Wasting no time, NTP's lawyers plan to file for a reconfirmation of an earlier order to shut down BlackBerry. That could take weeks, though, since a lower court has to schedule hearings on that filing and on RIM's request that the court enforce a $450 million settlement that fell apart in June. Still, the heat is on for Balsillie to reach the last-minute settlement that analysts are expecting.
Washington is widening its investigation into makers of big-ticket medical devices. The three top producers of defibrillators and other implantable cardiac devices -- Medtronic (MDT), Guidant (GDT), and St. Jude Medical (STJ) -- have been subpoenaed by the Justice Dept. The demand for records comes seven months after U.S. Attorneys subpoenaed five makers of artificial joints. The probes focus on payments these manufacturers make to surgeons for consulting work. The aim is to see whether the fees are for legitimate work or are a way of awarding doctors for using company products. Prices of heart devices can easily top $10,000, and surgeons typically have discretion over which brand they implant.
After months of speculation about who might succeed Andrew Heyward as head of CBS News (VIA), the network has decided to stay in-house. On Oct. 26, the network announced that Sean McManus, 50, president of CBS Sports, would oversee news as well. As a result, McManus becomes only the second network sports boss in history to run a news division, too. The legendary Roone Arledge did so at ABC (DIS), where McManus' father, sports commentator Jim McKay, worked for years.
A group of institutional investors has won a $651 million settlement against several banks that issued WorldCom (MCIP) bonds. The group, which includes the California Public Employees' Retirement System and worker retirement funds in several other states, had opted out of a $6.1 billion class action settlement last month between WorldCom investors and several investment banks. As part of the deal, defendant banks in the case, including Citigroup (C) and JPMorgan (JPM), will join with investors to ask the Securities & Exchange Commission to tighten rules on securities offerings to include disclosure of commercial bank loans made to issuers and issuers' officers and directors.
Just four months after they decided to take Cablevision (CVC) private, the father and son who run the company have changed their minds. The flip-flop will surely prompt frustrated investors to pressure the Dolans, who control 20% of the company, to sell the nation's sixth-largest cable operator. In a letter to Cablevision's board on Oct. 25, Chairman Charles Dolan, 79, and CEO James, 50, wrote that they were abandoning plans to privatize the cable systems and spin off the rest of the company to shareholders because they couldn't agree on the value of the properties with a committee of the board. Instead, they proposed a special shareholder dividend of $3 billion. Cablevision shares declined 13%, to about $24, on the news. Time Warner (TWX) is a likely bidder, but it's not clear whether it wants such noncable units as Madison Square Garden.
-- Bausch & Lomb (BOL) is probing allegations of improper accounting at its Brazilian unit.
-- U.S. Steel's (X) third-quarter profits plunged 70%.
-- The SEC has upgraded its probe of GM's (GM) pension accounting to a formal investigation.
So much for Harry Potter's magic. Despite selling 1.6 million copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Amazon.com (AMZN) saw its third-quarter profit fall 44%, due to a legal settlement and rising costs. After analysts cut their price targets, the stock dropped 14.2%, to $39.64.