PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - March 31

Reuters

March 31 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Congressional investigators looking into why General Motors Co took nearly a decade to recall vehicles with faulty ignition switches said on Sunday that federal regulators twice declined to open formal probes into complaints about the cars and that GM rejected a proposed fix for the problem in 2005 because it would have taken too long and cost too much. (http://r.reuters.com/tys97v)

* Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC is close to appointing a Credit Suisse investment banker as its next chief financial officer. The appointment of Ewen Stevenson, who advised on the bailout of the 81 percent government-owned RBS, still needs to be approved by UK regulator Prudential Regulation Authority, according to a person familiar with the matter. (http://r.reuters.com/get97v)

* Caterpillar Inc, a maker of construction and mining equipment, on Tuesday will become the latest blue chip hauled before the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to explain strategies designed to shrink tax bills. Caterpillar officials are preparing to defend a corporate restructuring in the late 1990s that helped the company reduce U.S. taxes, particularly on sales of parts to foreign customers. (http://r.reuters.com/xys97v)

* The Food and Drug Administration's efforts to speed approvals of drugs to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be front and center on Monday as the agency considers two new antibiotics with possible advantages. The FDA's methods to advance new antibiotics so far haven't generally led to great new drugs, and there has been considerable debate over attempts to speed the approval process. (http://r.reuters.com/hat97v)

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (IPO-ALIB.N) said Monday it agreed to pay $692 million to take a roughly 35 percent stake in Chinese department store operator Intime Retail (Group) Co in a bid to link more closely e-commerce and shopping at bricks-and-mortar retail stores. (http://r.reuters.com/mat97v)

* Blucora Inc is preparing an all-cash bid for Brookstone Inc that would challenge Spencer Sprit Holdings Inc's offer, which includes $120 million in cash and the assumption of Brookstone debt, among other things, according to people familiar with the matter. Spencer earlier offered to serve as the lead bidder at an auction for Brookstone, which is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection in the coming days. (http://r.reuters.com/pat97v)

* British entrepreneur Clive Cowdery plans to spend as much as $2 billion of investors' money in the United States over the next several years trying to replicate his success in scooping up life insurers in the UK. (http://r.reuters.com/tat97v)

* Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in the Securities and Exchange Commission's civil trial against entrepreneur Sam Wyly and his deceased brother, Charles. In a 78-page complaint filed in July 2010, the agency accused the Wylys of using a web of offshore trusts to conceal more than $750 million of stock sales in companies on whose boards they sat. (http://r.reuters.com/wat97v)

* In a renewed effort to lure a bigger share of the advertising dollars that now flow to major TV networks, YouTube has told marketers it will offer audience guarantees to advertisers that make advance commitments, according to people familiar with the matter. (http://r.reuters.com/zat97v)

* The U.S. Supreme Court is wading into a messy debate over when software deserves a patent - an issue that is important to big technology companies such as Microsoft Corp and Google Inc yet has so far flummoxed the federal judiciary. The high court will hear oral arguments Monday in an appeal brought by Alice Corp, whose patents on a computer program to reduce risk in financial transactions were ruled invalid by lower courts. (http://r.reuters.com/fet97v) (Compiled by Ankush Sharma in Bangalore)

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