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With our investment news briefs, Money Morning provides investors with a quick overview of the most important investing news stories from all around the world.
Australia Blocks Another China Majority Stake; Avtovaz Cutting 27,600 Jobs; WSJ: Citigroup Focusing on Six Metros; Experimental HIV Vaccine Raising Eyebrows; Nintendo Knocks $50 Off Wii; SEC Charging Insider Trading on Dell-Perot Options Player; Canwest Selling 50% Stake in Ten Networks; Aeropostale CEO Geiger Stepping Down;
- Australia’s government blocked China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Group Co. from buying a majority stake in Lynas Corp., a rare-earth producer, whose end product is used in iPod music players, liquid crystal displays, hybrid cars and wind turbines. Seeking to preserve local control of its country’s natural resources, Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board said the China mining company’s stake can’t exceed 50%, Bloomberg News reported.
- Avtovaz OAO, Russia’s biggest car maker, announced it will lay off 27,600 jobs, more than one-quarter of its workforce, as part of its anti-crisis program to stay afloat while car sales stall, MarketWatch reported. The initial number of jobs on the chopping block was 36,000, but the company president and trade union representatives reduced it. Avtovaz, whose main brand is Lada, will continue making 500,000 cars annually at a 65% working capacity, and its plant will be reduced to one-shift.
- Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) plans to pare down its U.S. branch network to six major metropolitan networks – New York City, Washington, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Wall Street Journal reported. Citi also plans to limit its U.S. consumer lending business primarily to credit cards and “jumbo” mortgages, which are given to mostly affluent customers, the Journal reported.
- An experimental vaccine made from a combination of drugs from Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis SA (NYSE ADR: SNY) and San Francisco-area-based VaxGen, Inc. (OTC: VXGN), in a Phase III clinical trial involving 16,000 adult volunteers conducted in Thailand over the course of six years, Dow Jones Newswire reported. “Albeit modest, the reduction of risk of HIV infection is statistically significant. This is the first concrete evidence, since the discovery of the virus in 1983, that a vaccine against HIV is eventually feasible," said Michel DeWilde, R&D Senior Vice President for Sanofi Pasteur. The study’s complete results will be presented by its lead investigator Oct. 20 at AIDS Vaccine 2009 in Paris.
- With the video game market cooling off, Nintendo Co., Ltd. (OTC ADR: NTDOY) announced it is cutting the price of its Wii console from $250 to $200, following the footsteps of its competitors Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Sony Corp. (NYSE ADR: SNE), Bloomberg reported. The price change takes effect in the U.S. Sept. 27, on Oct. 1 in Japan, and Oct. 2 in Europe. The price cuts come in advance of the holiday shopping season, in which Nintendo plans to release the latest title from its Super Mario World franchise.
- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charging a man with insider trading after he reaped $8.64 million from the planned purchase of Perot Systems Corp. (NYSE: PER) by Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), Reuters reported. According to the complaint, Reza Saleh, 53, bought 9,332 call option contracts on Perot through two online accounts and sold the contracts after the takeover was announced Sept. 21. Saleh works for Perot Investments Inc., a private affiliate of Perot Systems. "What's significant here, clearly, is the amount of money," Rose Romero, regional director for the SEC's office in Fort Worth, Texas, told Reuters. "It's incredible. It's a lot of money for a single individual to realize."
- Canada’s biggest media company, Canwest Global Communications Corp., plans to sell its 50% stake in Australia’s Ten Network Holdings Ltd. Buried in debt and unprofitable, Canwest said it’s aiming for a $592 million (A$680 million) return, which averages out at A$1.30 per share, 4.8% below Wednesday’s market closing, Bloomberg reported.
- Julian Geiger, chief executive of clothing manufacturer and retailer Aeropostale, Inc. (NYSE: ARO) announced he is stepping down from his post. Geiger’s low-price positioning helped the company gain market share during the recession. The momentum helped the company’s stock nearly than triple this year, MarketWatch reported.