SC business notebook

December 24, 2012 

3 Atlanta counties sue HBSC for minority housing loans

Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail. The Georgia counties’ failure or success with the relatively novel strategy could help determine whether other local governments try to hold big banks accountable for losses in tax revenue based on what they claim are discriminatory or predatory lending practices. Similar lawsuits resulted in settlements this year worth millions of dollars for communities in Maryland and Tennessee. Fulton, DeKalb and Cobb counties say in their lawsuit, which was filed in October, that the housing foreclosure crisis was the “foreseeable and inevitable result” of big banks, such as HSBC and its American subsidiaries, aggressively pushing irresponsible loans or loans that were destined to fail. The counties say they suffered tremendous damage.

Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon trucks face recall

A welding error by a supplier has forced the recall of 119,000 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks from the 2010 through 2012 model years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The error, discovered by General Motors during the inspection of faulty hoods on several vehicles, caused a secondary latch to be left off the construction of the hood. That is a safety issue and a violation of federal regulations. If the primary hood latch is not engaged, the hood could open unexpectedly. During vehicle operation, this could obstruct the view of the driver and increase the risk of a crash, the NHTSA said Monday. General Motors will notify owners and instruct them to inspect their vehicle for the presence of a secondary hood latch. Dealers will replace the hood on any affected vehicles without charge. It is not known how many vehicles were produced without the required second latch.

350 medical practices warned Botox might be unsafe

Federal regulators have warned more than 350 medical practices that Botox they may have received from a Canadian supplier is unapproved and could be counterfeit or unsafe. The Food and Drug Administration said in a letter sent last month, a letter released publicly last week, that batches of the wrinkle treatment shipped by suppliers owned by pharmacy Canada Drugs have not been approved by the FDA and that the agency cannot assure their effectiveness or their safety. The FDA said Canada Drugs was previously tied to shipping unapproved and counterfeit cancer drugs. The agency warned doctors about buying drugs from sources other than licensed U.S. pharmacies. It is the fifth warning the agency has made this year about foreign suppliers providing unapproved drugs.

Analysts report positive signs at JC Penney stores

Analysts who are getting out into JC Penney stores are finding some positive signs. Oppenheimer & Co. issued a note Monday saying Plano, Texas-based Penney’s recent promotions are showing “evidence of success.” The analysts in the note said they are increasingly optimistic that the chain’s promotional pricing stance will “position it well to reaccelerate its aggressive turnaround strategy in 2013.” Analysts Brian Nagel, Rupesh Parikh and Erica Eiler spent the weekend visiting Penney stores in the New York and New Jersey area. They found store traffic remained consistent with other December visits and significantly better that in prior months.

The Associated Press and The Dallas Morning News contributed.

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