Business & Finance
The president of the nation's most powerful institutional investor appeared in danger of losing his job, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal reported. The newspapers said the board of Calpers (California Public Employees' Retirement System) was on the verge of voting to remove Sean Harrigan after four years in the post. Although the reasons were not immediately clear, the newspapers said concerns have been raised over the fund's exercise of its considerable influence in matters not directly related to gaining optimum return on its huge portfolio of stocks. Under Harrigan, Calpers interceded on behalf of striking supermarket employees in California and in the efforts to oust New York Stock Exchange head Richard Grasso and Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner.
Verizon Communications and the city of Philadelphia struck an agreement that would allow wireless Internet access to be provided as a municipal service - even though Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) has signed legislation giving the company power to scrap the project. Philadelphia's plan is considered the most ambitious of any major city to provide free or cheap high-speed wireless to all residents.
American International Group, the world's largest insurer by market value, agreed to pay $126 million in penalties and restitution and to appoint an independent monitor to settle allegations that it helped corporate clients fraudulently inflate earnings. The Securities and Exchange Commission said AIG agreed to settle the allegations without admitting or denying any wrongdoing.
LG Philips, the No. 2 maker of flat-panel TV screens, said it is investing $5 billion in a state-of-the-art assembly plant being built at Paju, South Korea - even though the industry appears to be nearing a production glut. The new facility will manufacture 42-inch and 47-inch-wide panels, the world's largest, the company said.
In layoff news:
• Engineering giant Bombardier Inc. said it will cut 2,200 jobs in its rail division at plants in Canada, Germany, and Britain. In October, the Montreal company announced 2,000 job cuts in its aerospace unit.
• Royal Bank of Canada announced 1,660 layoffs. Most of them will come at its Toronto headquarters, although 477 will affect employees in the US, a statement said.
• Citing waning demand for its Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Jimmy models, General Motors said 950 jobs will be cut at its Linden, N.J., assembly plant. Two weeks ago, the automaker announced it will close its plant in Baltimore.