Silicon Valley firms hope to settle antitrust probe

Several major Silicon Valley employers are trying to settle a government investigation into whether they broke antitrust laws by agreeing not to recruit each other’s workers.

Google, Apple, Intel, Adobe Systems, Intuit and Pixar Animation are among the companies seeking a truce with the Department of Justice, people with knowledge of the discussions said Friday. These people didn’t want to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the discussions.

The dispute revolves around promises made as part of partnerships among the companies under investigation. To alleviate fears that the alliances would lead to payroll poaching, the companies agreed not to call up their partners’ employees with job offers.

 

Probe of recalls grows for Johnson & Johnson

Congress is investigating whether Johnson & Johnson carried out a second secret recall of faulty pain relievers last year, as a major probe of a dozen J&J recalls escalates.

In the first such recall, packets of possibly defective Motrin were quietly bought from stores across the U.S. in spring 2009.

E-mails released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform show a contractor hired for that job wrote to colleagues that his company was considering a “similar but potentially larger recall for July involving Children’s Tylenol” for J&J. It’s unknown whether that happened.

A source close to the investigation tells The Associated Press the panel has learned a former J&J employee falsely claimed federal regulators approved the first secret recall.

 

U.S. bank failures hit 125 as 6 more are shut down

Regulators on Friday shut down three Georgia banks and one each in New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin, boosting to 125 the number of U.S. bank failures this year amid the tough economic climate and growing loan defaults.

In Georgia, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over Bank of Ellijay, in Ellijay, with $168.8 million in assets; First Commerce Community Bank of Douglasville, with $248.2 million in assets; and Peoples Bank, based in Winder, with $447.2 million in assets.

The FDIC also seized ISN Bank in Cherry Hill, N.J., with $81.6 million in assets; Bramble Savings Bank of Milford, Ohio, with $47.5 million in assets; and Maritime Savings Bank, based in West Allis, Wis., with assets of $350.5 million.

 

Citigroup selling student loan stake to Discover, SLM

Citigroup Inc. said Friday it is selling its student loan business and about $32 billion in related assets to Discover Financial Services and the student lender SLM Corp., also known as Sallie Mae.

The bank has been looking for a buyer for its 80 percent stake in the Student Loan Corp. for some time as it refocuses it operations.

Citigroup said it will take a loss of about $500 million on the deal in this year’s third quarter.

Discover has agreed to pay $600 million for the Citi stake in Student Loan Corp and will also acquire $4.2 billion of private student loans. Sallie Mae will get $28 billion of assets, adding another 1.3 million new customers.

 

Inflation flat despite small rise in consumer prices

Consumer prices posted a small rise in August, but outside of a big jump in volatile gasoline prices, inflation was essentially flat.

Consumer prices edged up 0.3 percent in August, matching the July increase, the Labor Department said Friday. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, showed no increase in August.

Sluggish demand is preventing most businesses from raising prices and high unemployment is keeping a lid on wage pressures.