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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

BUSINESS BRIEFS
SEC seeks new charges in Merrill Lynch bonuses


Associated Press

WASHINGTON Federal regulators have expanded their charges against Bank of America Corp. over billions in bonuses paid at Merrill Lynch, accusing the bank of failing to disclose mounting losses at Merrill before a shareholder vote approving the combination of the two firms.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced yesterday it had asked a federal judge in Manhattan to allow it to file the new civil charges against the biggest U.S. bank. But the SEC also said it wouldn't charge any individual Bank of America executives, directors or attorneys because they are not alleged to have "deliberately concealed" information from the bank's outside attorneys or otherwise acted with intent to mislead.

Bank of America said it was glad regulators found no basis to charge any individuals or to assert a charge of fraud against the bank.

AOL BUYOUTS MISS REDUCTION TARGET

SAN FRANCISCO Struggling Internet company AOL was laying off up to 1,200 workers this week because it didn't get enough volunteers to accept buyouts.

An AOL spokeswoman said that only 1,100 had volunteered to leave. That means AOL would need to shed up to 1,200 positions to reach its previously announced reduction target of up to 2,300, or about a third of its work force.

The cuts, which were on top of thousands of positions shed in recent years, came as AOL separated from Time Warner Inc. last month.

In recent years, the company formerly known as America Online has been trying to reinvent itself as a content and advertising company as the legacy dial-up Internet access business that made the company famous steadily declined. But AOL has struggled in that transformation as its advertising revenue has failed to offset the drop in revenue from the dial-up business.

HEINEKEN TO BUY MEXICO'S FEMSA

AMSTERDAM Dutch brewer Heineken NV said it will buy the beer-making operations of Mexico's Femsa in an all-share deal that values the maker of Dos Equis, Tecate and Sol beers at $5.5 billion, excluding debt.

The buy increases Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Heineken's presence in growth markets and cements its position as the world's second-largest brewer by sales. It also continues a decade-long trend toward concentration among the biggest players in the global beer market.

Femsa brands have a 43 percent market share in Mexico and a 9 percent share in Brazil two of the world's top four most profitable beer markets.