BUSINESS BRIEFING

BUSINESS BRIEFING

Saturday, March 28, 2009

AUTOMOTIVE

GM CEO Meets U.S. Officials

With the White House set to announce more financial aid for General Motors and Chrysler on Monday, the Obama administration's automotive task force met yesterday, and GM chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. visited with officials.

On Thursday, President Obama said that the administration's aid package would require the companies to make "painful" and "pretty drastic" changes. It is not known how much more financial assistance would be offered or what conditions would be attached.

Separately, Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne said Fiat Group's deal to take a 35 percent share of Chrysler is likely to change, adding that the Italian automaker can help the U.S. company.

Under the nonbinding agreement, Fiat would take a 35 percent stake in the U.S. automaker in exchange for small-car technology, transmissions and other items that Chrysler has valued at up to $10 billion.

BANKRUPTCY

Charter Files for Chapter 11

Charter Communications filed for a prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy to get relief from its creditors, as the nation's fourth-largest cable operator struggles to compete with phone companies and satellite TV providers.

The St. Louis-based company seeks to emerge from bankruptcy as early as the end of summer and does not plan to sell any assets to competitors. After reorganization, interest costs at Charter, which has never posted a profit since going public in 1999 because of massive debt interest payments, would fall by half, to about $830 million a year.

The move would restructure about $8 billion of debt at Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

In the bankruptcy, Allen's 51 percent equity stake in the cable operator would be wiped out, along with shares of other stockholders. Allen also holds some debt and preferred stock. After reorganization, Allen would control 35 percent of the voting stock in the company.

BRITAIN

Madoff Charges Could Be Filed

Bernard L. Madoff's London operations played "a significant role" in his global multibillion-dollar fraud and charges may be filed this year, British prosecutors said.


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