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Wed, Nov 10, 2004 - Page 12 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ RegulationsBrokerages investigated

US federal regulators are investigating more than a dozen major brokerage firms for possibly executing some stock trades in ways that favor the firms at the expense of their customers, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Examiners at the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered the trading patterns -- in which the brokerages apparently failed to obtain the best available stock price for customers -- and notified the agency's enforcement attorneys about two weeks ago, two people said, confirming a report Monday in The New York Times. They spoke on condition of anonymity. In an investigation described as preliminary, the SEC examiners also formally notified the firms of the problems, according to these people. They include Ameritrade, E-Trade Financial, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab.

■ Display industry

LG moves into No. 2 spot

LG Electronics Inc of South Korea overtook Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial Co as the world's second-largest maker of plasma display panels during the third quarter, a researcher said. LG increased shipments in the three months ended Sept. 30 by 20 percent from the second quarter, to 192,892 panels, raising the Seoul-based company's market share to 21.5 percent from 19.6 percent, Displaybank said in an e-mailed statement. Matsushita, which sells products under the Panasonic brand, had an unchanged 21.1 percent market share after shipments rose 9.2 percent, the researcher said.

■ Insurance

Marsh ousts executives

Two top executives of scandal-tarred insurance firm Marsh Inc have been ousted, the company said, the latest casualties of an industry probe by New York's attorney general. Roger Egan, president and chief operating officer of Marsh, and Christopher Treanor, chairman and chief executive of the firm's global placement business, were "asked to step down from their positions" Monday, the company said. "These management decisions were difficult and were not based on any suggestion of culpability," Michael Cherkasky, president and CEO of the firm's parent company, Marsh & McLennan Cos, said in a written release. "However, at the end of the day, Mr. Egan and Mr. Treanor were accountable for the areas of the business that have been the focus of investigations ... and, therefore, we thought it was appropriate to make these changes."

■ Semiconductors

Infineon reports turnaround

German semiconductor company Infineon AG reported yesterday that it returned to the black in fiscal 2004 after three straight money-losing years amid a general recovery in the world chip market, but warned of a slowdown ahead. Infineon chief executive Wolfgang Ziebart said the company is "not satisfied" with the earnings, which came to 61 million euros (US$78.9 million) in the year ending Sept. 30. He cited costs from negative antitrust rulings for having cut into profits. The figure posed a nearly one-half billion euro turnaround after Infineon had lost 435 million euros in fiscal 2003. The final earnings figure came after Infineon managed a 44- million-euro profit in the last quarter through Sept. 30, falling far short of many analysts' forecasts of a fourth-quarter earnings of some 145 million euros.

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