JPMorgan Chase: Dodging the Madoff Bullet
JPMorgan Chase won dismissal of $19 billion in claims from a lawsuit brought by the trustee Irving Picard, who is liquidating Bernard Madoff’s former investment firm. Picard alleges the biggest U.S. bank aided in the fraud and therefore was liable to victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. A federal judge ruled that Picard lacked legal standing to bring the claim. The decision also eliminates most of the $2 billion in claims Picard sought from the Swiss bank UBS. JPMorgan, which was Madoff’s primary banker, said it didn’t know about or wasn’t party to the fraud and couldn’t be held responsible for a scheme orchestrated by Madoff alone. Picard plans to appeal the decision.
Toys “R” Us: Making a Play for Asia
Toys “R” Us bought a 70 percent stake in its licensed operations in China and Southeast Asia from joint venture partner Li & Fung, the world’s biggest supplier of toys and clothes to retailers. The transaction includes 90 existing Toys “R” Us stores in Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, boosting the toy store’s wholly owned international locations by 17 percent. Toys “R” Us may buy the remaining 30 percent stake in the venture as it expands throughout Asia.
Nokia: Gearing Up for a U.S. Comeback
Nokia will reenter the U.S. smartphone market in early 2012 by introducing handsets that run on Microsoft Windows Phone. The new handsets, which will be available through multiple carriers, may be its last chance to claw back share in the smartphone market, now dominated by Apple and handset makers that use Google’s Android operating system. The Finnish company announced it would ditch its own OS, Symbian, earlier this year. Nokia has shed more than $85 billion in market value since the iPhone made its debut in 2007.
Dodgers: Six-time Series Champs for Sale
Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to a court-supervised sale of the six-time World Series champs. The team filed for bankruptcy in June after MLB Commissioner Bud Selig rejected a 17-year TV-rights deal with Fox Sports, which Dodgers owner Frank McCourt valued at about $3 billion. Selig has claimed that McCourt mismanaged the Dodgers and “looted” $189 million from the club. The Dodgers denied the charges and accused Selig of driving the team into bankruptcy by failing to approve the Fox deal.
Wells Fargo: All in the (Wealthy) Family
Wells Fargo is courting families worth $50 million or more with the launch of its Abbot Downing advisory unit in April. The bank is merging two subsidiaries under the new brand, which is named after the company that built the 19th century stagecoach featured in Wells Fargo’s ads. The unit will oversee $27.5 billion for about 575 families, making it the No. 4 so-called family office in the country. It will invest in stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and real estate. Family offices cater to upscale clients with services from estate planning to investments.