More Layoffs Planned at United Airlines, Constellation Energy Group

With major retailers announcing same-store sales results from the previous month, job cuts and company mergers dominate financial news this morning. More economic reports will be released today including a weekly jobless claims report, an October factory orders report that is anticipated to show a drop of at least 4.5 percent and major retailer reports – including Wal-Mart – showing November same-store sales, reported. On the job front, more numbers will be added to the unemployment figures. United Airlines plans to furlough 1,088 workers at bases around the country, according to the Associated Press. The airline also plans to close maintenance facilities at the Newark, New York-LaGuardia and Philadelphia airports on Jan. 11. The Wall Street Journal stated the Carlyle Group L.L.C. is cutting 10 percent of its staff making it the first large U.S. private-equity firm to announce firm-wide layoffs. The Washington buyout shop will cut about 100 positions. The Baltimore Sun reported that Constellation Energy Group Inc. will lay off as much as 8 percent of its work force, or more than 800 people, mostly from the commodities trading division that propelled the company to the brink of bankruptcy this year and forced it into a proposed takeover, company officials said yesterday. Sell-offs and mergers are also at the forefront with Bloomberg reporting that Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. agreed to sell its investment management business, including the Neuberger Berman fund unit, to its managers in a deal that gives the bankrupt securities firm a 49 percent stake with undisclosed terms. The group, including Lehman executive George Walker, beat out a previous bid of $2.15 billion by private-equity firms Bain Capital L.L.C. and Hellman & Friedman L.L.C. The buyers will own 51 percent of the new company, according to Bloomberg. Panasonic Corp. has sweetened its offer for Sanyo Electric Co. by 8 percent to about $8.6 billion, sources familiar with the matter said, but major shareholder Goldman Sachs rejected the offer and threatened to launch a counter bid, Reuters reported. Panasonic has raised its offer and Sumitomo Mitsui and Daiwa SMBC are considering it, but the new offer is still 12 percent below the current market price and not high enough to satisfy Goldman, which said it may exercise a right to buy the shares held by Daiwa SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui, a move that would give it control of Sanyo, the Reuters article added. Republic Services Inc.’s $4.3 billion purchase of Allied Waste Industries Inc. has been cleared by U.S. antitrust enforcers, provided the companies divest assets in 15 metropolitan areas to preserve competition, Reuters reported. Under an agreement announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday, the trash haulers will have to divest assets, including 87 waste collection routes, nine landfills and 10 transfer stations.