Martha Stewart loses bid to dismiss Macy’s contract claim

NEW YORK, Fri Apr 12, 2013 — Martha Stewart’s company lost a bid on Thursday to dismiss Macy’s Inc.’s claim that it violated their contract when it designed certain products for J.C. Penney Co. Inc., even if the products do not carry the Martha Stewart brand.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Oing’s ruling may affect whether J.C. Penney can sell Martha Stewart-designed home goods in bedding, bath and cookware under a “JCP Everyday” label.

The judge is expected to rule Friday on whether to temporarily block Penney from selling Martha Stewart-designed goods that Penney manufactured in that “Everyday” packaging.

A preliminary injunction already in place bars J.C. Penney from selling Martha Stewart brand products in certain categories.

A Citi analyst on Tuesday estimated the inventory already in a warehouse could be worth $100 million.

Oing also pushed again for the sides to settle, rather than leaving the matter in his hands.

“This is a business deal that you should not have courts getting involved in,” Oing said. “It’s getting to a point where the clock can’t be turned back. The ship is ready to sail.”

Macy’s sued J.C. Penney and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. (MSO.N) after the two companies announced plans in December 2011 to open “Martha Stewart” stores within J.C. Penney.

 

The plans were part of Ron Johnson’s attempt to re-invent J.C. Penney after he became chief executive in November 2011. Johnson, who came under fire after sales fell 25 percent at the department store last year, was ousted on Monday.

JPMorgan, Citi, BofA sued for $949 million by Sealink

NEW YORK –|JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and more than a half dozen other major banks are being hit with a new lawsuit over $949 million in residential mortgage-backed securities.

A summons was filed Tuesday by Sealink Funding Ltd., an Irish entity that oversees risky RMBS, in New York state Supreme Court.

Sealink has filed numerous other lawsuits against major banks over billions in residential mortgage-backed securities it bought.

New York attorney Joel H. Bernstein, who represents Sealink, said the new case is over “securities they have not sued for in the past.”

Sealink claims the purchases were based on faulty offering materials, including misrepresentations of underwriting standards. It seeks damages or to have the purchases rescinded.

Citigroup introducing fees on low-balance bank accounts

NEW YORK ― Citigroup Inc. said it will start charging a monthly fee of $10 on checking and savings accounts with combined balances of less than $1,500, joining a growing list of banks seeking to recoup revenue lost under new financial industry regulations.

The fee will be waived if a customer completes one direct deposit and one online bill payment per month through an account, or maintains a balance of at least $1,500 in checking and savings accounts, Citigroup said on Friday

The change takes effect in December.

Under Citi’s current fee structure, customers are not required to maintain minimum account balances but must complete five transactions a month through an account to avoid a monthly fee of $8.

Citigroup said it will not charge for debit card use or online bill payment.

Stephen Troutner, head of banking products for Citi’s U.S. consumer bank, said free debit card use could woo customers from other banks that are weighing whether to charge for debit card use, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co.

“Customers have told us in no uncertain terms that is a huge source of irritation,” Troutner said.

Citi is the latest bank to tinker with its fee structure following changes in U.S. consumer banking regulations and laws over the last two years.

New regulations — part of a broad financial sector reform effort — limit overdraft fees and other penalty fees banks can charge.In response, many banks have begun introducing monthly service fees for accounts, debit card use and visits to branches.

Bank of America Corp, the largest U.S. bank by assets, added checking account fees last year. The BofA changes include an ebanking account, which allows customers to use ATMs and online banking for free but charges a monthly fee of $7 for teller visits or receiving paper statements.