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Nortel Cutting 3,200 Jobs; Agrium Makes Hostile Bid for CF Industries; Ambac Posts $2.34 Billion 4Q Loss; Obama Picks Locke; Oil Rallies; SanFran Chronicle Could Close
- Nortel Networks Corp. (NRTLQ) said it plans to slash 3,200 jobs as part of the company's efforts to climb out of bankruptcy protection. "With the unprecedented economic environment and resultant impacts on revenues, significant changes are required to regain our financial footing," Chief Executive Officer Mike Zafirovski said in a statement, Bloomberg reported. "Tough decisions are being made to restructure the company and work towards a successful emergence from creditor protection."
- Seed and fertilizer producer Agrium Inc. (AGU) made an unsolicited $3.6 billion bid for CF Industries Holdings Inc. (CF), a nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer producer. The $72-a-share proposal is 30% more than CF's Tuesday closing price, and is a shot to dissuade CF from buying rival Terra Industries Inc. (TRA), Bloomberg reported.
- Ambac Financial Group Inc. (ABK) posted a $2.34 billion, or $8.14 a share, fourth-quarter loss. The bond insurer set nearly $1 billion aside for losses tied to residential mortgage debt, Reuters reported.
- U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday (Wednesday) nominated former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke – a Democrat with strong ties to China – as his choice for U.S. Commerce Secretary, the Voice of America reported. Locke, the son of Chinese immigrants, served two terms as Washington's governor, making him the first Chinese-American governor in the United States. Locke was a strong proponent of trade with China during his time in office, and led several trade missions to the country. Two prior candidates withdrew – one over an ethics probe and the other over political differences with the new president
- Crude oil continued to rise yesterday (Wednesday) climbing $2.54, more than 6%, to settle at $42.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The rally came after gasoline inventories showed a 1.7% rise in demand.
- The San Francisco Chronicle, founded during the gold rush of the mid-19th century, could be shut down, Reuters reported. The paper lost more than $50 million last year and this year's losses to date are worse, according to its owner, Hearst Corp. "Survival is the outcome we all want to achieve," said Hearst Corp Chief Executive Frank Bennack Jr. "But without the specific changes we are seeking across the entire Chronicle organization, we will have no choice but to quickly seek a buyer for the Chronicle or, should a buyer not be found, to shut the newspaper down."