February 18, 2009 / 5:13 AM / 10 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Feb 18

Feb 18 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* General Motors Corp (GM.N) and Chrysler said they may need $21.6 billion more in bailout loans. GM plans to phase out Saturn, shut five more factories and cut 47,000 jobs. Chrysler slated a modest cut to production capacity.

* The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Texas financier Allen Stanford with an $8 billion fraud, alleging in a civil complaint that he lured investors with promises of high returns on certificates of deposit but poured their money into a “black box” of hard-to-trade assets.

* Accounting firms that missed alleged fraud in Madoff’s books could be liable to claims they should have spotted red flags, say experts.

* John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp LINTA.O scooped Sirius XM Radio Inc (SIRI.O) from the clutches of bankruptcy. The move was classic Malone: squeezing a deal from a distressed company while thwarting the advances of a rival.

* Goldman Sachs (GS.N) Co-President Jon Winkelried, a 26-year veteran of the Wall Street firm, is stepping down, putting more power in the hands of the other co-president, Gary Cohn.

* Executive-pay restrictions in the economic stimulus package could reach much further into the ranks of affected companies than previously believed, depending on how a crucial but confusingly written provision is interpreted, lawyers and compensation consultants said.

* The founder of NVR Inc (NVR.N) sold $139 million of the home builder’s stock this month, sending what an analyst called “a pretty bad signal” to investors.

* After weeks of intense negotiations with the U.K. government, Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS.L) said it had agreed to reduce cash bonuses by 90 percent and freeze pay for directors and executives world-wide.

* Medtronic Inc (MDT.N) posted quarterly net income far exceeding last year’s charge-laden results, but the medical-device maker said sales fell 4 percent in its core franchise of selling heart defibrillators and pacemakers.

* The Government of Singapore Investment Corp had an investment loss of around 50 billion Singapore dollars (US$33 billion) in 2008 as a result of tumbling asset prices around the world, two people familiar with the situation said.

* The U.S. Air Force is scaling back its request for its most advanced and costly fighter jets, as the service seeks to shift its emphasis from waging large-scale wars to combating insurgencies in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

* President Barack Obama signed his $787 billion economic stimulus package into law, with an upbeat speech emphasizing the road to recovery.

* President Barack Obama’s plan to aid troubled homeowners, set to be unveiled Wednesday, will include efforts to cut monthly mortgage payments, allow more borrowers to refinance their loans and give bankruptcy judges greater power to modify mortgages, according to people familiar with the proposal.

* China reached a long-term deal to lend $25 billion to two Russian energy companies in exchange for an expanded supply of Russian oil, highlighting how the world’s No. 3 economy is using its financial muscle to lock up access to natural resources.

* Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso’s already shaky government was rocked by the sudden resignation of his finance minister over allegations he appeared drunk after a recent summit.

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s (WMT.N) quarterly sales rose 1.7 percent as it pressured rivals with discounts, and said earnings would continue to climb this year even as other retailers are forecasting sharply lower profits and sales.

* Big-name food manufacturers, including Kraft Foods Inc KFT.N and General Mills Inc (GIS.N), are joining forces with retailers to promote their brands alongside private-label goods.

* The Gates Foundation is aiding programs that let consumers in Asia, Africa and Latin America access financial services through their cellphones.

* Nokia Corp NOK1V.HE and Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) unveiled plans to develop next-generation cellphones for North America, as the longtime opponents joined together to target the U.S. market.

* Saturn dealers are planning to spin off from General Motors Corp (GM.N) into a new company that will seek to sell third-party vehicles under the Saturn brand, according to Dan Januska, the owner of Saturn of Scottsdale.

* Investors burned by accused fraudster Bernard Madoff are hoping to get help from an unlikely white knight: the Internal Revenue Service.

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