Bank of America begins large staff reductions

Layoff notices are going out to Bank of America Corp. employees this week, a sign the significant staff cuts that are part of a company-wide initiative have begun.

A spokesman said the bank would not comment on how many or where the layoffs were occurring.

The Charlotte-based bank announced in September that 30,000 positions would be eliminated as part of the Project New BAC cost-cutting program.

A bank employee also told McClatchy Newspapers that layoff notices were given to employees in the global learning division, which trains new hires and existing workers.


TD Bank expansion to add 1,600 jobs in S. Carolina

TD Bank is expanding its South Carolina corporate offices and creating 1,600 jobs in the state over the next five years.

The company said Wednesday it will put a regional hub in Greenville, adding 1,400 jobs to its expanded campus off Interstate 85. A $17 million renovation of three buildings is to start early next year. The campus currently employs 160 people.

TD’s parent company, Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank, acquired Greenville-based South Financial Group last year. TD did not have a U.S. presence six years ago, but now has 1,300 branches from Maine to Florida.


Netflix subscribers offered bit of Wal-Mart settlement

More than 25 million current and former Netflix subscribers are being offered a sliver of a $27.5 million settlement from Wal-Mart.

The proposed payment is being made to settle allegations that the video subscription service and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. illegally conspired to inflate the prices to rent and buy DVDs.

Most people covered by the agreement weren’t notified until the details were sent in mass emails late Tuesday.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is paying for the settlement without acknowledging any wrongdoing. The proceeds will be offered in cash or Wal-Mart gift cards. Assuming everyone eligible participates, it would amount to less than $1 per person.


Benetton pulls fake photo of pope kissing an imam

The Benetton clothing company withdrew an ad Wednesday featuring Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips after the Vatican denounced it as an unacceptable provocation.

Benetton had said its “Unhate” campaign launched Wednesday was aimed at fostering tolerance and “global love.”

The campaign’s fake photos feature a half-dozen purported political nemeses in lip-locked embraces, including President Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.


Deal reached on claims over defective drywall

A settlement has been reached between a major manufacturer of Chinese-made drywall and homebuilders who used the tainted product in about 1,500 Gulf Coast homes.

There were no objections to the settlement in court Wednesday in New Orleans.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Bruce Steckler says he expects approval by U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon.

Steckler says the settlement between homebuilders and entities of the Knauf Group could resolve the claims, mostly in Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The settlement involves reimbursements to builders for homes that have been fixed or are being repaired now, and others that are in line to be remediated.

Fallon presides over other cases that include more than 10,000 claims by residents who blame damage to their homes on defective Chinese-made drywall.