UPI NewsTrack Business

Jan. 12, 2008 at 9:52 AM
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Citigroup goes abroad for big Investors

NEW YORK, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Banking sources say China Development Bank is expected to invest nearly $2 billion to help stabilize struggling New York-based giant Citigroup.

Saudi billionaire Prince Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who invested $590 million in Citigroup in 1991, is expected to join China Development's deal, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Alwaleed's stake in Citigroup likely will remain below 5 percent to avoid regulatory scrutiny, but given that Citigroup has a stock market value of $140 billion, even a 1 percent stake is a significant sum, the Journal said.

Citigroup hopes to collect $8 billion to $10 billion from a number of investors, including at least one fund affiliated with a foreign government, sources familiar with the deal told the Journal.

Last month, Abu Dhabi's investment arm paid $7.5 billion for a 4.9 percent stake in cash-strapped Citigroup.

Sun-Times offer staff buyout package

CHICAGO, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The Chicago Sun-Times is offering 27 editorial staffers age 55 and older a buyout as part of its plan to cut $3 million from the newsroom payroll.

The buyout package negotiated by the Newspaper Guild has the newspaper contribute for up to five years to the medical coverage of those who accept the deal, the Chicago Tribune reported Saturday.

Newsroom reductions began last week with the layoffs of five non-union Sun-Times staffers and the resignations of two more, the Tribune reported.

The cutbacks are part of a plan by the Sun-Times Media Group to cut $50 million in costs company-wide during the first half of 2008.

The company, which has more than 100 Chicago-area publications, is making similar cuts at its other papers, the Tribune reported.

Ace employee makes $152 million error

OAK BROOK, Ill., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Illinois-based Ace Hardware plans to restate its earnings for three fiscal years because of a $152 million accounting error made by an employee.

The poorly trained employee, who no longer works for Ace, incorrectly entered accounts in ledgers in the finance department at the co-op's headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., Ace CEO Ray Griffith told the Chicago Sun-Times.

"We are embarrassed by it," Griffith said. "We did not provide the training, oversight or checks and balances to help that person do (the) job," Griffith said. The employee's "only intent was to try to do the best job for the boss and for our company."

Ace Hardware will restate its earnings for fiscal years 2004, 2005 and 2006, and correct its numbers for fiscal 2007, Griffith said, noting Ace Hardware store owners were informed of the situation Friday after an investigation that cost roughly $10 million.

Britain's home values top $8 trillion

LONDON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Financial analysts say the value of Britain's 22 million homes rose to a record $8 trillion in 2007.

That amount is nearly three times more than the gross domestic product of Britain and more than half of the United States GDP, The Times of London reported Saturday.

Despite a sharp rise in household borrowing in recent years, housing equity continues to outweigh mortgage debt by a three to one margin, said Martin Ellis, chief economist at Halifax, Britain's largest mortgage lender.

The increase in housing value should more than offset any significant drops in housing prices this year, the Times said.

Citigroup predicts house prices in Britain could fall by 10 percent during the next three years while Halifax predicts prices should remain steady, except in the Midlands and northern England, where Halifax expects home prices to decrease, the Times reported.

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