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BNET Daily Dispatch: Take-Two, AT&T, Barnes & Noble, and Retail Theft

  • The SEC opened an investigation yesterday into Take-Two Interactive Software, maker of the "Grand Theft Auto" video game series, over its past stock-option grants practices. In February, Take-Two's CEO pled guilty to criminal charges over backdating options, and became the first ex-CEO to do so. Take-Two said reviews of its past options grants found several instances of backdating from 1997 to 2003.
  • AT&T said it's willing to partner with an Italian company to buy a controlling interest in Italy's biggest telecom operator, Telecom Italia. Currently AT&T and Mexican telecom company, America Movil, are considering buying 66 percent of Olimpia--a holding company that owns 18 percent of Telecom Italia. Yesterday Telecom Italia fired its chairman, Guido Rossi, causing a rift between its investors.
  • Barnes & Noble said yesterday that a special committee found several instances of improperly dated stock option grants, and that it'll have to adjust its retained earnings by $22.8 million. The company said the committee reviewed stock option grants given to more than 3,300 employees between 1996 and 2006 and found no evidence of fraudulent conduct. Barnes & Noble said the errors emerged from administrative delays and shoddy record keeping.
  • The National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association are working with the FBI to create a national online database that will allow merchants to share information to fight organized retail theft. In the past, retailers wouldn't share information, and organized rings would rob stores in one area without being detected. Unlike shoplifters who steal for themselves, organized retail thieves resell the stolen goods. Organized retail theft costs the industry $30 billion last year.
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