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By Aruna Viswanatha and Anna Yukhananov WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc will pay $100 million to resolve U.S. probes into whether the bank violated U.S. sanctions against Iran, Sudan, Myanmar and Cuba, U.S. authorities said on Wednesday. The bank entered into agreements with the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury Department and the New York State Department of Financial Services. Criminal authorities at the U.S. Justice Department and the District Attorney of New York have closed their related investigations and will not bring charges, RBS said.
DETROIT - Kettering University President Robert McMahan was travelling in China a few months ago when he bumped into one of the university's board members at an airport in Shanghai. Mary Barra, the busy global product development chief at General Motors Co., might have just said hello and turned back to her phone. On Tuesday, GM's board named Barra, a 33-year company veteran, as its next CEO, making her the first woman to lead a major car company. Barra replaces Dan Akerson, who moved up retirement plans by several months to help his wife, Karin, battle advanced cancer.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Steve McQueen's historic saga "12 Years a Slave" topped the nominations list for 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Wednesday, boosting its Academy Awards prospects with four nominations.
JOHANNESBURG - Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu's home was robbed while he was away to attend the memorial honouring Nelson Mandela, police said Wednesday, marking the third time in recent years thieves have targeted him. Robbers hit Tutu's home in Cape Town Tuesday after nightfall â€” the same day the Nobel Peace Prize laureate spoke at the memorial service honouring his fellow anti-apartheid fighter Mandela in Johannesburg. Tutu's spokesman, Roger Friedman, confirmed the robbery. Tutu campaigned against white minority rule in South Africa.
A federal judge said General Motors Co is not required to pay $450 million to cover medical benefits for retirees, in a defeat for the United Auto Workers union. In a 36-page decision, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn in Detroit said on Tuesday that the current GM did not assume any obligation for the payment, which the automaker had contracted to make two years before its June 2009 bankruptcy filing. The payment had been part of a June 2007 contract between the old GM, its former Delphi Corp affiliate and the UAW. It was not, however, included in a different contract over medical benefits signed in July 2009 by the GM that emerged from Chapter 11.
By John Tilak TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index dropped on Wednesday, as weak commodity prices weighed on shares of natural resource companies and investors cautiously digested news of a provisional U.S. budget agreement. The bipartisan budget deal announced in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday marked the end of three years of gridlock and fiscal instability in Washington that culminated in October with a partial government shutdown. Further dragging on the market was a 4. ...
By Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Now that the central question before the Federal Reserve has shifted from whether to cut its extraordinary stimulus to when exactly to pull back, the debate at next week's meeting will center on how best to communicate that plan. While recent and brisk improvements in the labor market have raised the chance that policymakers might taper at their meeting next week, most economists expect the Fed to keep its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program in place for a bit longer. But the Fed is expected to grapple with how much to telegraph about any plan to wind down its purchases, and to reinforce its commitment to keeping interest rates near zero even as it preps markets for the long road back to policy normalcy. "What should be on the table is, Are there adjustments to our forward guidance that would reinforce the overall stance of policy that the Fed is trying to communicate?" the president of the Atlanta Fed, Dennis Lockhart, who is often seen as a bellwether for overall U.S. monetary policy, told reporters last week.
By Himank Sharma MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's financial market regulator unveiled new proposals on Wednesday, broadening the scope of who can be held liable for insider trading violations, as it steps up its fight against securities fraud. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to include company employees, directors and their immediate relatives and other stakeholders such as founders, handling market sensitive information under its purview. SEBI has long sought greater powers to investigate securities fraud, which many analysts say is undermining confidence in the stock market, particularly among retail investors. In May India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged SEBI to root out the "disease of insider trading" from stock markets.
(Reuters) - The union representing Boeing Co's Seattle area machinists said its leaders had met with top executives of the airplane maker on Tuesday about restarting talks that could see the new 777X jetliner built in Washington state, where the current 777 is built. The meeting came after union members last month roundly rejected a labor contract offer by Boeing that would have ensured the new jet was built in the Seattle area. On its website, the International Association of Machinists District 751 said its president, Tom Wroblewski, and other union representatives had met on Tuesday with Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Ray Conner and other executives from the company. "No proposals were exchanged." Boeing confirmed that the meeting with Conner and other Boeing officials took place.
By Matt Scuffham and Steve Slater LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland chief Ross McEwan faced a fresh management headache on Wednesday as the surprise departure of Finance Director Nathan Bostock created a senior vacancy as the group attempts to navigate through a period of upheaval. Bostock, 52, has quit to rejoin Spain's Santander after just 10 weeks in the job, dealing a blow to McEwan's efforts to turn around the state-owned lender and adding the appointment of a new CFO to his lengthy "to do" list. McEwan has endured a rocky start since taking up the role of RBS chief executive in October, undermining his attempts to create a new customer-focused culture. "The ... departure is a major inconvenience," one of RBS's biggest 40 shareholders told Reuters.
By Kate Holton and Chris Vellacott LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. activist investor Sandell Asset Management demanded British transport operator FirstGroup split off its U.S. business, owner of the yellow school buses that operate across the country, to invest in its domestic arm. The hedge fund's public attack caps a torrid year for FirstGroup, the leading transport operator in Britain and North America that handles more than 2.5 billion passengers a year. Sandell, which owns just over 3 percent of FirstGroup, wrote to the directors urging them to spin off and list the U.S. business on the stock market. Sandell said on Wednesday a break-up would enable FirstGroup to fund a much-needed investment program in its British bus business and to bid from a position of strength when the next round of rail franchises come up for tender.
(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon said on Wednesday he was thankful congressional leaders had reached a budget deal and was "less worried" about the impact of an eventual scaling back of the Federal Reserve's market-friendly stimulus measures. The agreement on the federal budget was good for business confidence, Dimon said at an investor conference in New York, adding he would send thank-you notes to congressional leaders.
By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's financial watchdog imposed a record 28 million pound ($46 million) fine on Lloyds Banking Group for the way it encouraged staff to sell 2 billion pounds of products that customers did not need. Lloyds sales incentives included the chance to win a one-off payment of 1,000 pounds, known as a "grand in your hand". "The findings do not make pleasant reading," said Tracey McDermott, the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) director of enforcement. The FCA was launched in April to try and end Britain's litany of mis-selling scandals in financial products spanning over two decades.
By Huw Jones LONDON (Reuters) - The 11 European Union countries that have pledged to tax financial transactions will consider narrowing the levy's scope to shield pensions, government debt and markets that help to grease the economy, an EU document shows. The aim of the tax is to make banks pay for some of the taxpayer money they received during the 2007/09 financial crisis, but worries over unintended consequences have mounted among some of the countries taking part.
Barnes & Noble Inc Chairman Leonard Riggio has sold 2 million of his shares in the bookstore chain he founded, lowering his stake in the company to 26.3 percent, according to a regulatory filing on Wednesday. The sale, coupled with a donation of 160,000 shares Riggio made to a foundation that bears his name, leaves him with some 15.75 million shares in the company he turned into a national chain of big-box bookstores. Riggio sold the 2 million shares on Tuesday for $13.81 apiece, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In February, Riggio said he might make an offer to buy the bookstore chain's retail business but he dropped his plan in August.
Global mining company Rio Tinto told investors it would prioritize cutting its debt burden in 2014 before returning cash to shareholders, pressing ahead with cost reductions that have already exceeded a $2 billion 2013 target. Rio, along with other major mining companies facing cooling demand for its minerals, has announced aggressive cutbacks, from administrative costs to spending on exploration, hoping to boost flagging shareholder returns and protect its credit rating. Rio told analysts and investors on Wednesday its focus next year would be to continue lowering a debt burden that is likely to end 2013 little changed from a year ago - roughly $19 billion - after hitting a peak of $22 billion in June. "2014 is going to be very much focused on paying down debt with any surplus cash we generate there..., that is after whatever the board decide on progressive dividend in February," Chief Financial Officer Chris Lynch told analysts and investors after a presentation in London.