Two big banks take heat over foreclosure program

Two of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders are not doing enough to help Americans avoid foreclosure, the Obama administration said Thursday.

The Treasury Department said Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have done a poor job helping people permanently lower their mortgage payments as part of the government’s foreclosure-prevention program. The lenders have rejected people who were eligible for mortgage modifications, Treasury said.

The government first criticized the two lenders, along with Wells Fargo & Co. and Ocwen Loan Servicing, in June, and began withholding financial incentives of up to $1,000 per permanent loan modification.

Talks on Starz deal unravel, sending Netflix stock down

Netflix’s negotiations to keep a key piece of its Internet video library have collapsed, dealing a major blow to the largest U.S. video subscription service as it raises the prices for most of its 25 million customers.

The setback triggered a 9 percent drop in Netflix Inc.’s stock price late Thursday.

Starz Entertainment announced it won’t renew a contract that allows Netflix to show a lineup of recently released movies and TV shows over high-speed Internet connections.

The content from Starz’ cable TV channel played an instrumental role in increasing usage of Netflix’s streaming service and contributed to Netflix’s ability to add nearly 17 million subscribers since the deal was signed in October 2008.

Starz content will be removed from Netflix’s service starting in March.

Goldman subsidiary to stop criticized lending practices

Goldman Sachs’ mortgage subsidiary agreed Thursday to stop many of its controversial mortgage-related practices in a settlement with a New York state banking regulator.

The settlement was a condition to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s sale of its Litton Loan Servicing subsidiary to a mortgage company, Ocwen Financial Corp.

Also on Thursday the country’s chief federal banking regulator, the Federal Reserve Board, announced a formal enforcement action against Goldman to address a pattern of misconduct and negligence in how it handled mortgage loans and foreclosures via Litton.

The Goldman subsidiary said it will stop robo-signing, which involved outsourcing mortgage paperwork to processing companies that hired unqualified people to sign thousands of mortgage affidavits without reviewing loan documents.

‘Grossly excessive’ award overturned in Oracle case

A federal judge in San Francisco has thrown out a $1.3 billion jury verdict against German business software maker SAP AG, slamming the penalty as “grossly excessive” and dealing a setback to SAP’s Silicon Valley rival Oracle Corp.

The ruling Thursday is a surprising twist in a landmark intellectual property case.

Larry Ellison, Oracle’s outspoken CEO, has pilloried SAP for its amateurish theft of software and customer-support documents from password-protected Oracle websites. SAP has admitted that a now-shuttered subsidiary, TomorrowNow, committed the offense.

SAP argued that the subsidiary wasn’t that great at stealing customers with the information, and should have to pay only $40 million for accounts it managed to lure away.

H&R Block posts bigger loss than expected for quarter

H&R Block Inc. on Thursday said its fiscal first-quarter loss widened, largely because of a charge taken as part of its plans to sell its business consulting subsidiary.

The nation’s largest tax preparer, which typically reports a loss in the first three months of its fiscal year, posted a net loss for the period ended July 31 of $175.1 million, or 57 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $130.7 million, or 41 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

The results included charges of 20 cents per share, mainly related to the sale of its RSM McGladrey unit.

— From news service reports