New England Sports Ventures: Snapping Up England's Liverpool Club

Liverpool, historically England's most successful soccer club, will likely be sold to New England Sports Ventures, parent company of the Boston Red Sox, for $476 million. The sale to NESV, a Boston-based company owned by billionaire John W. Henry, is still subject to English Premier League approval and a legal challenge from Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, who say the offer is too low. The five-time European champion, which won the last of its 18 English league titles in 1990, was put up for sale in April with debt of $558 million. Liverpool's owners bought the club for $350 million, including debt, in 2007. The deal is expected to be completed in mid-October.

American Express: Refusing to Settle

On Oct. 4, Visa (V) and MasterCard (MC) reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Dept. that will allow merchants to use financial incentives to steer consumers away from using cards with higher transaction fees, which eat into a retailer's profits. American Express (AXP) chose to fight a government antitrust lawsuit, saying a settlement would undermine competition in the payment industry. Those who accept Amex will remain subject to restrictions until the lawsuit is resolved.

Prada: Mulling a Possible IPO in Hong Kong

Milan-based Prada is considering an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the first half of 2011, according to three people familiar with the situation. The high-fashion powerhouse may raise more money with a primary listing in Hong Kong than in Milan, as individual investors are more active in Asia, sources say. The company's sales may reach $2.75 billion in 2010.

Big Pharma: Under Investigation for Bribery

Federal investigators in the U.S. are probing Merck (MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca (AZN), and Baxter International (BAX) over allegations that they paid bribes in foreign countries to boost sales and accelerate product approval, according to letters cited in The Wall Street Journal. Possible violations include bribing government-employed doctors to purchase certain drugs and paying regulators to win drug approvals. The probe targets transactions in Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, according to people familiar with the matter. SciClone Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly (LLY) also said they have been subpoenaed.

New York Times Co.: Plans to Repay Slim Ahead of Time

The New York Times Co. (NYT) says it intends to pay back a $250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim by January 2012, three years ahead of schedule. The company borrowed the money in January 2009 at an interest rate of 14 percent, buying time to sell assets and refinance existing debt. The early repayment will save the company an estimated $100 million, according to its namesake paper. In the past two years, New York Times Co. has reduced its net debt to $670 million from $1.1 billion.

On the Move

— Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Former SAP (SAP) CEO Léo Apotheker named CEO.

— Skype Cisco Systems (CSCO) executive Tony Bates appointed CEO.

— American International Group (AIG) Chief Risk Officer Robert Lewis steps down.

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