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In Brief

Published August 29, 2006

Lofty aspirations for communications

A former NASA manager envisions the end of ugly cell phone towers by tethering communications to high-flying airships.

Prudential settles illegal-trading charges

Prudential's brokerage subsidiary agreed Monday to pay $600-million in fines and restitution for deceptive market timing in trading mutual fund shares for wealthy clients. The settlement with the Justice Department is one of the largest resulting from a broad investigation of market timing using computerized stock sales that has rocked the fund industry for the past three years. In 2004, Bank of America Corp. agreed to a $675-million deal. Prudential's brokerage subsidiary, Prudential Equity Group LLC, admitted to criminal wrongdoing from 1999 until September 2003. At least two dozen brokers at PEG or its predecessor, Prudential Securities Inc., generated $57-million worth of commissions and more than $100-million in illicit profits for their clients just from 2001 to 2003, the government said.

SunTrust Banks won't face SEC charges

SunTrust Banks Inc. said Monday it has been notified by the Securities and Exchange Commission that a formal inquiry under way since January 2005 into issues related to the company's restatement of its 2004 results has ended. No enforcement action has been recommended, Atlanta-based SunTrust said. The SEC has asked SunTrust for documents on the company's allowance for loan losses and related matters, SunTrust said. In November 2004, the bank said an internal review of accounting errors for loan-loss allowances found "a material weakness" in its internal controls, and three of its credit administration division employees were dismissed.

Applebee's promotes executive to CEO

Casual dining chain Applebee's International Inc. has officially named Dave Goebel, 56, as the company's new chief executive officer. The company, based in Overland Park, Kan., had announced its intention to name Goebel to the post in January and the board of directors made the appointment official Friday. Goebel, currently president and chief operating officer, will assume the job Sept. 5, replacing current CEO Lloyd Hill, who will remain chairman of the board.

T-bill rates fall

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction, with the six-month bill dropping to the lowest level since mid June. The Treasury auctioned $17-billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 4.960 percent, down from 4.975 last week. An additional $16-billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.970 percent, down from 4.975.

[Last modified August 29, 2006, 00:01:34]

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