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REGULATORS

Friday, November 2, 2007

REGULATORS

CPSC Head Defends Herself

The head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission responded to Democratic lawmakers who called for her resignation this week, saying she is not opposed to increased funding or legal authority for the agency. Acting chairman Nancy Nord said in a statement that her position on a Senate measure designed to beef up her beleaguered agency had been distorted. "I am very troubled by the prospect that any time a federal agency official is critical of legislation pending before Congress, congressional leaders may seek to have that official silenced or even dismissed," Nord said.

She said she did not intend to resign.

Food Safety Director to Leave

Robert E. Brackett, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's food safety division, is leaving the agency at the end of the month. He will join the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food, beverage and consumer-products companies, the group said in a statement. He will serve as senior vice president and chief science and regulatory affairs officer.

FTC Focusing on Competition

Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz said the agency is focusing on competition, rather than privacy, in its review of the proposed Google-DoubleClick merger. At an FTC conference on behavioral online advertising, Leibowitz said regulators might step in to protect consumer privacy in the online marketing sphere. Still he said, "our analysis of the merger has got to be about competition and potential competition. It can't be about privacy, per se."

AIRLINES

Airfares Increased

American Airlines sparked widespread airfare increases by raising U.S. round-trip prices $20. It came a day after low-fare AirTran boosted round-trip prices $10 on tickets purchased seven days or less before travel and $20 round trip for flights of more than 1,700 miles. Delta Air Lines matched American's increase, the seventh by a major U.S. airline since Sept. 1. United Airlines, Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines and US Airways Group are studying American's move, spokesmen said.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

MetroPCS Scraps Offer for Rival

MetroPCS Communications, the largest pay-as-you-go mobile phone service in the United States, scrapped its offer to buy Leap Wireless International for more than $4 billion, saying it wasn't able to have "meaningful" talks. Leap rejected the all-stock offer in September.

LEGAL

Device Makers Reveal Fees

The five biggest makers of hip- and knee-implant devices posted on their Web sites the names of 1,805 medical consultants they paid this year, including 46 doctors or organizations that got $1 million or more. Zimmer Holdings, Johnson & Johnson's Depuy Orthopedics, Smith & Nehphew, Biomet and Stryker did so under Sept. 27 agreements with U.S. prosecutors to settle claims that they paid kickbacks to surgeons who used their products.

EXECUTIVES

AirTran Promotes President

The parent of AirTran Airways, AirTran Holdings, said its president and chief financial officer will become chief executive. Robert L. Fornaro, 54, replaces Joe Leonard, effective immediately. Fornaro will continue to serve as president, while Leonard will continue as chairman.

Citigroup Executives Leave

Two Citigroup fixed-income executives departed after $6.5 billion in quarterly write-downs and losses from credit markets. Michael Raynes, who headed structured credit, and Nestor Dominguez, co-chief of collateralized debt obligations, left the company this week, said Danielle Romero-Apsilos, a Citigroup spokeswoman.

TECHNOLOGY

Sony to Cut Blu-ray Player Price

Sony will lower the price of its Blu-ray video-disc player from $500 to less than $400, the head of its consumer electronics division said. Blu-ray and HD DVD, backed by Toshiba, are competing to be the home-entertainment standard. HD DVD players usually sell for just under $300.

MySpace Partners With Google

MySpace joined a software partnership headed by Google that lets developers create applications for shared use across multiple sites. The agreement leaves Facebook as the largest social-networking site outside the Google OpenSocial network, which includes LinkedIn and Friendster.

EARNINGS

GMAC sad its loss widened in the third quarter to $1.59 billion from $173 million in the comparable period a year earlier. Revenue fell 44 percent, to $2.56 billion. GMAC, the lending company that General Motors sold to hedge fund firm Cerberus Capital Management, said results included a $2.3 billion loss at its Residential Capital mortgage unit.

KBR's third-quarter profit surged to $63 million from $7 million, in part from its military contracts in Iraq, but its energy and chemicals arm reported flat results. The military contractor and construction and engineering outfit, a former Halliburton subsidiary, said revenue fell 2 percent, to $2.18 billion.

Compiled from reports by Washington Post staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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