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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.
AIG Selling Taiwan Life Insurance Unit; Source: Comcast Proposes NBC Universal JV; China Auto Sales up 78% in Sept.; Whitney Cuts Goldman to Neutral; Bank of America Turns over Merrill Docs to SEC; Argentina Could Default in 2011; J&J 3Q Earnings Beats Street; Morgan Stanley Planning Australia Property IPO
- American International Group, Inc. (NYSE: AIG) agreed to sell its Taiwan life insurance unit, Nan Shan Life, for $2.15 billion – the insurance company's latest step to repay the $80 billion in taxpayer money loaned to it by the U.S. government. The buyers are China Strategic Holdings and Primus Financial, a new financial services firm recently started up by former Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) executive Robert Morse, Reuters reported.
- Comcast Corp. (NYSE: CCS) has offered to buy NBC Universal would General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), and allow the latter to unwind its stake over several years, a source told the Associated Press. The deal's price tag is hovering around the $30 billion mark, and would carry $9 billion in debt. GE owns 80% of NBC Universal, and France's Vivendi SA (PINK ADR: VIVDY) owns 20%.
- from a year earlier, with passenger car sales climbing 84% to 1.02 million units, the Strait Times reported. Total sales for the first nine months of the year are 9.66 million units, a 34% increase from last year. Sales have been spurred by tax cuts and government stimulus spending.
- Analyst Meredith Whitney, who correctly predicted in 2007 that Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) would cut its dividend, cut her rating of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) to neutral from buy. It was Whitney's only buy recommendation, and Goldman had climbed 34% since she made the July 13 market call, Bloomberg reported. Goldman's stock is up 125% on the New York Stock Exchange so far this year.
- Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) agreed to waive its legal privileges linked its purchase of Merrill Lynch, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said. The agreement is subject to court approval, but could allow the SEC to find out how much Bank of America knew of Merrill's pending losses, information shareholders didn't receive, Reuters reported.
- Stone Harbor Investment Partners said that unless Argentina reaches an accord with investors holding $20 billion in bonds, it will be forced to default by 2011, Bloomberg reported. The government has been relying on local markets and loans from Venezuela for financing, and has seized $24 billion from pension funds last year. "They've got to get things straightened out — they need to do that now," said Jim Craige, manger of $10 billion of emerging-market debt at Stone Harbor and owner of Argentine securities, including some of the defaulted bonds.
- Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) beat Wall Street estimates with its third-quarter earnings, posting a net income of $3.35 billion, or $1.20 a share, compared with $3.31 billion, or $1.17 a share, last year. Johnson & Johnson also raised its 2009 adjusted earnings outlook to the range of $4.54 to $4.59 a share, MarketWatch reported.
- Morgan Stanley's (NYSE: MS) Australia real estate company, Investa Property Group, plans to raise as much as $680 million in an initial public offering (IPO) of some of its assets as soon as this year, sources told Bloomberg. According to the sources, Investa plans to package several office towers and list them on the Sydney exchange. "A lot of people have been underweight property and are looking to rebuild their exposure," Angus Gluskie, who manages about $300 million at White Funds Management in Sydney, told Bloomberg. "Cyclically, we're getting to the end of the downward property spiral."