Business notes


Citigroup, Morgan Stanley to merge brokerages

Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley agreed Tuesday to combine their brokerages in a deal that shows how much Citigroup wants to slim down and build up cash. Morgan Stanley is paying Citigroup $2.7 billion for a 51 percent stake in the joint venture. Citigroup will have a 49 percent stake. Citigroup's retail brokerage, Smith Barney, was once the crown jewel in its wealth management business. The new unit, to be called Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, will have more than 20,000 advisers and $1.7 trillion in client assets, and it will serve 6.8 million households around the world, the companies said.

Yahoo names Bartz new CEO

Yahoo Inc. named technology veteran Carol Bartz as its new chief executive Tuesday, bringing in a no-nonsense leader known for developing a clear focus, something that has eluded the struggling Internet company during a three-year slump. The decision to lure Bartz, 60, away from software maker Autodesk Inc. ends Yahoo's two-month search to replace co-founder Jerry Yang, who surrendered the CEO reins after potentially lucrative deals with rivals Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. both collapsed.

Aid for financial system favored

A mammoth stimulus package being crafted by President-elect Barack Obama could give the economy a much-needed lift, but other steps must be taken to bolster the wobbly financial system and for any recovery to stick, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday. Bernanke suggested the government inject more money into banks. He also offered options for dealing with rotten mortgages and other bad assets held by financial institutions, a problem that has contributed to a lockup in lending. Bernanke also again called for the government to do more to curb home foreclosures.

Pfizer to lay off up to 800 workers

Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drug company, is laying off up to 800 research staff this year in its latest effort to refocus disappointing research efforts and cut its massive overhead ahead of an anticipated crash in revenue. New York-based Pfizer plans to reduce its global research staff of about 10,000 people by 5 percent to 8 percent this year. In September, the company had announced that it was narrowing its research focus to six disease areas — Alzheimer's, cancer, schizophrenia, pain, inflammation and diabetes — and abandoning new research in other areas. Where possible, researchers were shifted from other areas into the six core areas.


Home prices tumble in Dubai

Home prices in fast-growing Dubai tumbled 8 percent in the last three months from the previous quarter, the strongest evidence yet that the city-state's property boom has run out of steam, a new report shows. Colliers International, the real estate consultancy that issued the report Tuesday, said the decline is the first it has seen in its two years of tracking prices. The firm's regional director described the drop as probably the first the boomtown has witnessed since it began allowing foreigners to buy property in 2002. That decision is credited with helping turn this onetime sleepy desert village into a metropolis packed with new skyscrapers and fancy seaside mansions.

Russia shows off control room

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin led European experts into the high-tech control room of Russia's energy giant Gazprom on Tuesday, to show that Moscow is blameless in a dispute with Ukraine that has slashed gas shipments to Europe. But it wasn't clear what the room's banks of computers and schematic map of pipelines proved. There were hopes early Tuesday that an agreement to bring in monitors would end the weeklong cutoff that has plunged parts of Europe into a new kind of cold war. Instead, those hopes ran up against a chorus of fresh recriminations between Moscow and Kiev. Russia alleged that Ukraine was blocking the shipments of natural gas. Ukraine in turn blamed Russia, saying the Kremlin had demanded the Europe-bound gas go by a laborious route that would require Ukraine to cut off supplies to its own people.

Barclays to cut 2,100 jobs

Barclays PLC will cut 2,100 jobs in its investment banking, fund management and private banking units in response to the global economic downturn, according to a person knowledgeable about the decision. The cuts revealed Tuesday, representing about 7 percent of the bank's global staff, are in line with layoffs by other major banking institutions in recent months. The person familiar with the plan, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk on the record, said 1,300 layoffs will come from Barclays Capital, 500 from Barclays Wealth and 370 from Barclays Global Investors.

Staff, wire reports