December 21, 2007 / 6:53 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Dec 21

Dec 21 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Merrill Lynch & Co Inc MER.N is in advanced talks to receive a capital infusion of up to $5 billion from Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd [TEM.UL], a Singapore state-owned investment fund. The news comes amid analyst predictions that mortgage write-downs for the Wall Street firm may double with another $8 billion or more in the fourth quarter.

* Chrysler LLC is in a serious financial crunch and trying to sell assets just months after Cerberus Capital Management LP [CBS.UL] and new Chief Executive Robert Nardelli stepped in to save the auto maker. The acquisition is turning into a case study of how deals made during the boom are going sour.

* Mortgage-fraud schemes — some highly sophisticated — are costing banks billions and go a long way toward explaining why defaults and foreclosures are rocking Wall Street and the economy. The system itself bears some blame.

* Russia’s OAO Vimpel Communications VIP.N has agreed to acquire broadband and fixed-line operator Golden Telecom Inc GLDN.O for about $4.24 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

* Banks and investors are dealing with a growing problem: Some firms on the other side of trades in the beleaguered credit markets might not be able to make good on their commitments. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the bond-insurance business, where units of firms like MBIA Inc (MBI.N) and ACA Capital Holdings Inc ACAH.PK have guaranteed payments on billions of dollars of mortgage debt to large banks, brokers and investors around the world.

* The latest massive maneuvers by the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank have had the desired calming effect on money markets. But as those central banks acknowledge, the moves haven’t eliminated the threat from a cascade of bad news from financial firms, worries about more bad news to come and the likely impact of falling U.S. housing prices.

* United Company RUSAL is poised to take a 25 percent stake in Russia’s OAO Norilsk Nickel (GMKN.MM), which may lead to full control of the world’s largest nickel producer and further the Russian aluminum giant’s ambition to become a mining power.

* U.S. Justice Department antitrust enforcers are inquiring about pricing by chocolate makers, which have been trying to offset higher dairy costs.

* U.S. President George W. Bush is ending the year with the approval of just one in three voters, according to the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, but he is enjoying a string of legislative successes in Congress, on matters from Iraq-war funding and the federal budget to energy policy, tax increases and mortgage relief.

* BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd RIM.TO RIMM.O, showing its popular device is moving beyond purely business customers, reported strong third-quarter earnings fueled by rapid consumer growth during the lead-up to the holiday season.

* In a sign of how traditional regional banks are also being sucked into the vortex of the credit-market crunch, SunTrust Banks Inc (STI.N) said it would take $1.4 billion in exposure to SIVs on its balance sheet and now expects a write-down of as much as $400 million this quarter on soured investments.

* Google Inc’s (GOOG.O) $3.1 billion deal to buy Internet advertising services company DoubleClick Inc was cleared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, but it faces a final and potentially tougher hurdle in Europe.

* Real-estate magnate Sam Zell completed his $8.2 billion buyout of Tribune Co TRB.N and installed himself and two longtime associates, Randy Michaels and Gerald A. Spector, atop the debt-laden company.

* FedEx Corp (FDX.N) reported its biggest quarterly profit decline in three years, but predicted the economy won’t slow further in 2008.

* The U.S. House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for Jose Rodriguez, the former Central Intelligence Agency official who directed that secret interrogation videotapes of two suspected terrorists be destroyed.

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