Morning Business Memo…
Saved from collapse by a massive bailout, the insurance company AIG is now considering joining a lawsuit against the government, which claims the terms were too harsh. The complaint says shareholders were cheated by the $182 million bailout, which included high interest rates and billions in payments to AIG's Wall Street clients. The New York Times reports the lawsuit was filed in 2011 by 87-year-old former CEO Maurice Greenberg, a major investor who ran AIG for more than four decades.
The lawsuit claims the terms of rescue were too harsh, and that shareholders were deprived of tens of billions of dollars, which violated the Fifth Amendment prohibiting seizure of private property for "public use, without just compensation." According to The Times, AIG board members will meet tomorrow in New York to hear a presentation about joining the shareholder suit.
Stung by fierce competition from online rivals, Target is now making a year-round pledge to match low prices customers find on identical products at other sites. The online list of competitors includes Amazon, Toys R Us, Babies R Us, Best Buy and Wal-Mart. The nation's second largest discounter made a holiday offer to match prices and is now making this policy permanent. For the first time the price match will include products that are out of stock on Target.com. The moves follow a disappointing holiday shopping season for the Minneapolis-based retailer.
A Texas company says it's figured out a way to keep bread from growing mold for 60 days. MicroZap CEO Don Stull says the bread is bombarded with microwaves for about 10 seconds, which kills the mold spores. The process could eliminate bakers' need for preservatives and the ingredients used to mask their flavor, increase bread's shelf life and reduce food waste. MicroZap researchers also see applications of the technology in developing countries where there are fewer food safety standards and spoilage is a problem.
Corporate earnings season kicks off today. Aluminum producer Alcoa will be the first big US company to report its fourth quarter numbers. Earnings growth at Alcoa could be at a three-year high. South Korea's Samsung Electronics says that its profit during the most recent quarter nearly doubled to a record high on strong sales of smart phones. Samsung , the world's largest mobile phone maker, is also well known for its TVs and memory chips.
The recession in Europe could drag down earnings at many large corporations. Unemployment in the 17 European Union countries that use the euro reached a record 11.8 percent in November. The numbers illustrate the difficult task facing EU leaders to repair the region's economies. While the threat that the single currency union might crumble appears to have receded, joblessness continues to rise.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc