Valiant Comics names new head, will publish in 2012

Valiant Comics will return to shops in 2012 after the company that owns it and its stable of some 1,500 characters said Thursday that it had named a new chairman and expanded its management team.

Valiant Entertainment, based in New York, said that former Marvel chief executive and vice chairman Peter Cuneo was named chairman of the company, co-founded by Jason Kothari and Dinesh Shamdasani. It also said that it had received an infusion of capital from Cuneo & Co. LLC, a private investment firm focused on consumer products, media and entertainment. Cuneo is managing principal of the group.

Jobless data still indicates hiring trends are subpar

U.S. applications for unemployment benefits fell slightly last week, according to fresh government data, but new claims remained at a level typically associated with subpar hiring trends.

The Labor Department on Thursday said 422,000 people nationwide requested jobless benefits in the week ended May 28. The prior week’s number was revised up to 428,000 from an originally reported 424,000.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected initial claims to decline to a seasonally adjusted 418,000. 

Borders more likely to sell stores than to reorganize

A judge granted Borders an extension to file its reorganization plan under bankruptcy protection, but a sale of some of its stores appears more likely.

A Borders lawyer confirmed Thursday that a bankruptcy judge granted the extension at a hearing in New York.

Borders now has until October to file a plan with the court, but Andrew K. Glenn said he expects to file a motion in two to four weeks about selling the company. The plan was originally due June 16.

Glenn confirmed Borders is in talks with several buyers to sell all or most of its stores. 

New York Times top editor to step down this summer

The executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, will step down this summer after eight years on the job and will be replaced by managing editor Jill Abramson, who will become the first woman to hold the newspaper’s top editing post.

Keller, 62, who presided over the newsroom during a time of enormous change within the industry, will stay on as a full-time writer for The New York Times Magazine and the newspaper’s Sunday opinion and news section, the Times announced Thursday.

“Bill came to me several weeks ago and told me that he felt the time had come for him to step down from the role of executive editor,” Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement. “I accepted his decision with mixed emotions.”

Abramson, 57, joined the Times in 1997 after working for nearly a decade at The Wall Street Journal. 

Former Madoff employee to plead guilty, prosecutors say

Federal prosecutors say one of Bernard Madoff’s former employees has agreed to plead guilty to participating in his epic swindle.

The prosecutors say in a letter to a judge that Eric Lipkin will appear in Manhattan federal court on Monday to admit his role in Madoff’s crimes.

The letter made public Thursday says the charges will include conspiracy, bank fraud and falsifying various financial records. 

Several banks under review, credit downgrades possible

Moody’s Investors Service said Thursday that it was reviewing the ratings of Bank of America Corp. Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. for possible downgrades.

The three banks’ current ratings are already in the middle of the investment-grade corporate credit ratings. And that’s with a boost from Moody’s assumption the federal government would prevent them from failing in a crisis. Moody’s said Thursday that this “too big to fail” assumption may no longer be true.

In a statement with the announcement, Moody’s senior vice president Sean Jones said the Dodd-Frank Act makes clear the government “does not want to bail out even large, systemically important banking groups.” One aim of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was signed into law last July, is to make it easier to break up large financial institutions. 

CEO defends 3-D movies as ticket percentage falls

Disney CEO Bob Iger defended the company’s production of 3-D films Thursday after 3-D ticket sales for several recent movies lagged their predecessors.

It’s “way too early to write 3-D’s epitaph,” Iger said at the All Things Digital conference. “I think a lot of conclusions are being reached about a business that’s still relatively new.”

Industry experts point out that Disney’s fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie and the second installment of “Kung Fu Panda,” from DreamWorks generated around 40 percent of their revenue from 3-D screenings, compared with about 60 percent from earlier films such as “Shrek Forever After” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”