Archive for June, 2009

Monster online jobs index dips in June (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 | Finance News

NEW YORK (Reuters) –
A monthly gauge of online labor demand in the United States fell a touch in June and its decline slowed on a year-over-year basis, suggesting stabilization in the jobs market, a private research group said on Wednesday.

Monster Worldwide Inc (MNST.O), an online careers and recruiting firm, said its employment index fell to 117 in June from 118 in May. The current month's reading is 28 percent below the 163 mark a year ago.

While job openings posted online are at their lowest in nearly 2-1/2 years, there are encouraging signs that the worst of job losses might have passed, said Jesse Harriott, Monster's senior vice president.

"The annual pace improved during the second quarter, suggesting some expansion in underlying employer demand for workers," Harriott said in a statement.

Online job availability rose in eight of the 20 industries Monster tracks and they also increased in 12 of 23 occupations it monitors.

Labor demand in the real estate, rental and leasing industry jumped the most in June, coinciding with signs of stabilization in the housing sector, Monster said.

By occupation, online job hirings for lawyers, police and fire-fighters jumped the most in June, it said.

The Monster Employment index is a monthly analysis based on a selection of corporate career sites and job boards. The margin of error is approximately plus or minus 1 percent.

(Reporting by Richard Leong, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)


BofA’s asset management unit gets lukewarm bids: report (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 | Finance News

(Reuters) –
Bank of America Corp's (BAC.N) primary investment management unit is drawing lower than expected bids after its likeliest suitor, BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), inked a blockbuster deal to buy Barclays Global Investor (BARC.L), the Financial Times reported, citing people close to the matter.

Bank of America has been trying to sell its Boston-based Columbia Management unit since earlier this year, but the bank has so far not announced a deal for the unit.

The company is hoping to get at least $3 billion from a sale of Columbia Management, but bids so far have come in closer to $2 billion, the paper said, citing the people.

BlackRock was a leading candidate to buy the business, but its hands have become full since agreeing to buy BGI for $13.5 billion last month.

But buy-out firms remain interested in First Republic, a private bank that Bank of America has been trying to sell.

A group led by former bank executive Gerry Ford -- which includes private equity firms Carlyle Group (CYL.UL), Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), Oak Hill Capital Partners and TPG -- appears to have the highest degree of interest in the business, FT said, citing people close to the matter.

If sold, First Republic could be priced at about its tangible book value -- ranging from $600 million to $800 million depending on how its assets were marked and the degree to which Bank of America agreed to share losses, the paper said.

(Reporting by Tenzin Pema in Bangalore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)


U.S. group questions AstraZeneca’s Crestor patent (Reuters)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
A U.S. patent research group says it has uncovered evidence that could be used to declare AstraZeneca Plc's (AZN.L)(AZN.N) patent for its cholesterol fighter Crestor invalid.

AstraZeneca is involved in litigation to defend the Crestor patent from generic drugmakers that want to bring a cheaper copy to the U.S. market.

The patent group, Article One Partners LLC, did not say who found the prior art, essentially information describing the patented technology that dates from before the patent application. Discovery of good prior art would make defending a patent considerably more difficult.

Article One said the person is eligible to win an award of up to $50,000.

A similar discovery by Article One, launched by CEO Cheryl Milone last year, led to a patent office decision last month to reexamine a patent for Merck and Co Inc's (MRK.N) blockbuster Singulair asthma and allergy drug.

Article One encourages researchers and experts in various fields to identify evidence related to patent validity. Those who succeed are paid and the collected evidence is sold to the group's clients.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Andre Grenon)