AOL reverses benefits policy
AOL Inc is reversing a new policy for staff retirement plans that would have forced employees who leave before the end of the year to forfeit benefits. AOL, owner of Web sites such as the Huffington Post, will change the policy back to matching staff contributions for each pay period, instead of making payments in an annual lump sum, chief executive officer Tim Armstrong said in a memo on Saturday to employees seen by Bloomberg News. The policy change comes after Armstrong two weeks ago blamed US President Barack Obama’s healthcare law for creating an additional US$7.1 million expense for the company, which prompted AOL to seek costs savings by cutting benefits. Other companies, including United Parcel Services Inc, also cited the law for some cuts to its spending on benefits.
OGX sold to creditors
Brazilian tycoon Eike Batista will turn over the bulk of his debt-ridden OGX oil company to creditors in a US$215 million deal that aims to ensure the firm continues to operate. Under a deal announced on Saturday the newly-renamed Oleo y Gas Participaciones (OGP) will create US$215 million worth of shares, in two stages, pending regulatory approval, said a statement from the company.
The creditors agreed to acquire the 65 percent stake, a spokesman told reporters adding that existing shareholders will be left with just 10 percent, while company founder Batista’s stake will be reduced to 5 percent. The oil firm emphasized this type of financing constitutes “a key element in the restructuring of the company.”
US drops Samsung case
US Department of Justice (DOJ) officials on Friday dropped an antitrust investigation into whether Samsung abused essential mobile gadget patents in its ongoing battle with Apple. At issue was whether the South Korean consumer electronics giant tried to gain advantage using “standards-essential patents” on technology that considered a basic requirement in smartphones or tablets. Since such technology is needed to make devices viable based on industry standards, rights to use it are to be made available at fair market rates, according to marketplace rules. The DOJ antitrust division began investigating last year when Samsung convinced the US International Trade Commission to ban certain iPhone and iPad models from the US based on SEPs. In June, the commission said it issued a “limited exclusion order” for certain devices made by Apple, in a victory for Samsung. The scenario raised a concern that Samsung might be “exploiting the market power obtained through the standards-setting process,” the DOJ said in a release.
Barclays bonuses drop
Barclays PLC will limit the cash portion of investment bankers’ bonuses to ￡140,000 (US$229,400), 24 percent below last year’s level, a person with knowledge of the plans said. Bonuses for the London-based bank’s 1,200 managing directors for last year will be deferred and paid in three installments, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not been made public. The cap compares with a maximum of ￡185,000 last year, the person said. Chief executive officer Antony Jenkins said two weeks ago he will turn down his bonus, acknowledging that regulatory penalties and lawsuits have continued to impose costs on the bank after it raised ￡5.8 billion from shareholders in October.