The City of Los Angeles on May 4 sued Deutsche Bank (DB) for allegedly failing to maintain foreclosed properties and illegally evicting low-income tenants. The lawsuit came a day after the U.S. Justice Dept. sued the German bank for more than $1 billion, claiming its MortgageIT Holdings unit falsely certified that it was examining default risks when it qualified loans for Federal Housing Administration insurance. Renee Calabro, a spokeswoman for the Frankfurt-based bank, says that the L.A. City Attorney should have sued loan servicers, not Deutsche Bank. She also called the federal government's lawsuit "unreasonable and unfair" and said the bank will fight it.
Ralcorp Holdings: Another Bid Spurned
Ralcorp Holdings, the biggest U.S. maker of store-brand foods, on May 4 spurned a $4.9 billion offer from ConAgra Foods and adopted a shareholder rights plan to bar its suitor from gaining control of its shares. ConAgra's offer, its second unsolicited bid in less than two months, is 32 percent more than Ralcorp's closing price before the initial overture. Buying Ralcorp, which generated about $3 billion last year from selling foods under retailers' own brands, would help ConAgra almost quadruple private-label sales.
Pandora: Now, Personalized Laughs
Pandora, the Internet radio company known for its system that suggests and delivers music based on individual taste, is expanding into comedy. On May 4, the company made available 10,000 audio tracks by more than 700 comedians, ranging from W.C. Fields to Cheech & Chong. Pandora analysts categorize the tracks by style and content, allowing listeners to create personalized stations based on comedians or genres such as political comedy, working-class comedy, or comedy from various decades.
GlaxoSmithKline: Poligrip Suits Settled
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) paid at least $120 million to resolve claims that the zinc in some of its Poligrip products caused neurological disorders, say two people familiar with the accords. GSK agreed in February 2010 to remove zinc from its denture cream line after research linked "excessive use" of the metal to health problems, including nerve damage. Over the past nine months, the drugmaker resolved more than 100 lawsuits alleging it failed to flag health risks. Spokeswoman Bethany Burtyk says the company does not comment on litigation.
Microsoft: A Bing-BlackBerry Partnership
Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer on May 3 announced that Bing will be the default search engine and map application on Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry smartphones. The partnership with RIM is a boon for the software maker as it seeks to expand in mobile devices and catch up with Google, whose share of the U.S. search market is more than four times bigger than Bing's. RIM, the second-largest North American smartphone maker, is working on packing more features into its handsets to challenge Apple's iPhone.
On the Move
— Infosys Technologies (INFY): S.D. Shibulal promoted to CEO
— Merscorp Former: CitiMortgage Chairman Bill Beckmann named president and CEO
— Blockbuster: Michael Kelly appointed president of the DISH Network (DISH) unit