IN BRIEF

Ex-MGM Mirage chief paid $5.8 million in ’08

Former MGM Mirage Chief Executive Terry Lanni was paid $5.8 million in 2008, almost 40 percent less than in 2007, an Associated Press analysis of regulatory filings show.

Lanni resigned in November and was replaced by then-Chief Operating Officer Jim Murren, who was paid $3.7 million last year by the casino operator.

The AP calculations use data from a proxy statement the Las Vegas-based company filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Lanni’s pay package included $2 million in salary and $1.34 million in perks, including $717,000 for company contributions to an executive retirement plan and $482,000 for personal use of a company airplane.

Murren’s package included a $1.5 million salary and $442,000 in perks.

NEW YORK

Analyst says LV Sands should pursue offering

Casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. should proceed with a Macau initial public offering to help meet its liquidity needs, a UBS analyst said Thursday.

Robin Farley said in a client note that Las Vegas Sands is highly likely to trip up the maximum leverage covenant on its senior secured credit agreement at the end of September, so the Macau IPO could be quite helpful.

The Sheldon Adelson-led company, which runs the Sands Macau and The Venetian Macau, had a debt load of $10.41 billion at the first quarter’s end.

Farley estimates the company will have to raise $2 billion to $2.5 billion from a possible Macau IPO to cover a number of obligations, including repaying part of its Macau debt, helping to pay for part of its Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore and providing additional funds for its new Sands Bethlehem casino in Pennsylvania.

To meet all of its needs, Las Vegas Sands may have to sell about 25 percent of its Macau operations, Farley said.

WASHINGTON

Fed chief says he didn’t pressure bank executive

Facing an unusual political trial, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke disputed accusations Thursday that he pressured Bank of America to acquire Merrill Lynch in a deal that cost taxpayers $20 billion.

In a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Bernanke denied threatening to oust Bank of America’s CEO Kenneth Lewis or the bank’s board members if they abandoned the takeover after discovering spiraling losses at Merrill.

“I never said that I would replace the board and management” if Lewis decided to invoke a clause in the acquisition contract to try to stop the deal, Bernanke told the committee.

HOUSTON

Billionaire pleads not guilty to charge

Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive investment scam.

Stanford entered his plea during his arraignment in federal court. The financier was indicted on charges that his international banking empire was really just a colossal Ponzi scheme. Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt, three executives with the now defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group who were indicted along with their former boss, also entered not guilty pleas.

At a bond hearing shortly after the executives’ arraignment, prosecutors argued Stanford should be held without bond as he awaits trial on fraud charges because he might have access to billions of dollars in secret funds. A judge ruled that he could be released on bond.

DETROIT

Michigan said to be site of new GM car plant

Michigan has won the high-stakes competition with two other states to build General Motors Corp.’s next-generation subcompact car, a person briefed on the decision said Thursday.

The announcement that the car will be built at a retooled midsize car factory in Orion Township near Pontiac will come Friday, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public. It will save about 1,200 jobs at the factory, which had been slated to shut down later this year.

GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb wouldn’t say whether GM had made a decision.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.

Yahoo CEO promises to help company thrive

Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz echoed the turnaround promises of her predecessors as she presided over the first shareholder meeting since her hiring, yet she left little doubt the slumping Internet company’s new boss isn’t the same as the old bosses.

Like Terry Semel did in 2007 and Jerry Yang again last year, Bartz assured shareholders Thursday that she will polish Yahoo’s tarnished brand and end a three-year financial funk that has depressed the Sunnyvale-based company’s stock.

But her message resonated with more flair and spunk than the more circumspect styles of Semel and Yang.

Bartz made it clear she didn’t want to hear any questions about Microsoft Corp., which courted Yahoo while Semel was CEO in 2007 and intensified while company co-founder Yang was in charge last year.

CINCINNATI

Kroger chief looks for balance in pact talks

Kroger Co.’s chief said Thursday that both sides must find a balance as the grocery chain faces tough union negotiations during the recession.

Chairman and CEO David Dillon said after the annual shareholders meeting that the down economy has worsened problem issues such as health care costs and pension funds.

Workers in the Denver area last week rejected a new offer, and employees in Arizona; Dayton, Ohio; and Portland, Ore., are under contract extensions. Talks are ahead this year in the Atlanta and Dallas regions.

Kroger has reached agreements this year with locals in New Mexico; Roanoke, Va.; and Las Vegas.

AutoNation sees boost from ‘cash for clunkers’

AutoNation Inc. said the “cash-for-clunkers” law President Barack Obama signed may increase new- vehicle sales at the largest publicly traded U.S. auto retailer by 10 percent through year’s end.

AutoNation sold 65,698 new vehicles in the third quarter of last year through its 289 dealer franchises. A 10 percent increase from the law approved Wednesday may mean “roughly” 4,000 extra new vehicles because industry demand has been running as much as 40 percent lower than last year, company spokesman Marc Cannon said.

NEW YORK

After notes auction, Treasury yields drop

Bond prices rose Thursday, sending yields lower, after the Treasury Department sold $27 billion in seven-year notes.

The 10-year Treasury note’s price was up 1.16 points at 96.53, and its yield was down at 3.54 percent from 3.68 percent late Wednesday.

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