Bid for Circuit City: Blockbuster says it's offered more than $1 billion for the troubled electronics retailer, which is a 56 percent premium over Circuit City's stock price as of Friday. But the response has not been positive. Circuit City said it had "fundamental questions" about the proposal, including Blockbuster's ability to finance its offer. CC has a point. Blockbuster isn't exactly the picture of financial health - and its core business is slowly disappearing. (AP)
SAG rebuffs actors plan: As expected, the board of the Screen Actors Guild deferred – some say gutted – a proposal to limit those who can vote in the upcoming contract negotiations to working actors. More than 1,400 SAG members, including some heavy hitters, called on the board to require that only actors who work at least one day a year be allowed to vote. But board members argued that it would disenfranchise most guild members. From the LAT:
The board referred the matter to a committee, which proponents widely interpreted as a rejection. "I don't think there is a will to address this issue seriously under the current leadership," said actor Ned Vaughn, one of the petition organizers. "We're disappointed, but that hardly means we will go away." In SAG, any member in good standing can vote on the film and TV contract. Actors qualify for membership if they have appeared in a principal or speaking role in a SAG film, video, television program or commercial. Also eligible are extras who have worked at least three days on a SAG-covered show in their lifetimes and people who qualify to join through a sister union.
Fremont makes sale: The OC mortgage lender had been ordered by regulators to boost up its cash position or risk being taken over by the government. So Fremont General has reached a deal to sell the assets of its investment and loan bank. The buyer is CapitalSource, a commercial lender in Chevy Chase, Md. that will form an industrial bank in California. The purchase price isn't expected to offset the deposits being bought, according to Fremont. So CapitalSource is expected to loan the company $200 million as part of the deal. (Washington Post, OCBJ)
American back in business: The airline's fleet of 300 MD-80 jetliners is in service after last week's maintenance fiasco. As of last night, there were still some passengers who had not yet been able to find other flights. (NYT)
More airline consolidation: With Delta and Northwest expected to join hands, another big merger appears to be waiting in the wings: United and Continental. It gets a bit incestuous but basically Northwest has an ownership position in Continental that effectively gives it veto power over any Continental sale. But if Northwest is out of the way, Continental is free to cut its own deal with United. (Chicago Tribune)
Less scrutiny of big companies: Just in time for tax day: Major corporations have about a one in four chance of being audited by the IRS, down from about three in four in 1990. (Americans with incomes above $100,000 have a 1 in 59 chance.) A new report finds that the agency is shifting its focus away from big corporations to smaller companies, private partnerships and other private entities. But the IRS says it's not that simple. From the NYT:
Companies of all sizes, as well as wealthy individuals, have embraced the use of partnerships and other opaque entities in an effort to minimize taxes, the officials said. Sometimes those arrangements cross the line into tax abuse; Enron used hundreds of them to commit fraud. Because large companies increasingly use such partnerships, the I.R.S. has stepped up scrutiny of these entities. “These aren’t mom-and-pop grocery stores we’re auditing,” said Barry Shott, a deputy I.R.S. commissioner. The I.R.S. has not reduced its scrutiny of large corporations, he said. Instead, it is focusing on the private partnerships some of these companies use to avoid paying taxes.