UBS Nears Settlement, HSBC Could be Liable for $1.8 Billion: Weekly Financial Biz Recap

The surprise purchase last week of Archstone by SamZell’s Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR) and  AvalonBay Communities (NYSE:AVB) is bringing back investor interest to apartment stocks after four months of decline. The parties paid $16 billion to buy Archstone from Lehman Brothers, ending a plan by the latter for an IPO of its biggest asset along with stopping a 13 percent slide in apartment stocks since their peak in July. The slump was begun by worries that rising homeownership and new construction would dampen landlords’ ability to hike rents as a giant share sale was dumped on the market.

 Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC) decides that this is not the time for new fees which could have impacted a minimum of 10 million customers by the end of 2012. The move to not hike checking account fees at least until late in 2013 comes during a sweeping review of the company’s retail-banking business, say inside sources. Meanwhile, other top banks like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) are launching plans that should either raise fee revenues or force customers to do more business with them.

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Glenn Hadden, the chief of interest rate trading at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), is being investigated in regards to trades he made back in 2008 while employed with the competitor Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE:GS), according to a regulatory filing. Hadden has been credited with bringing part of Morgan Stanley’s bond-trading operation back after the financial crisis.

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA)(NYSE:BRKB) claims as much as $1 billion from the reinsurer Swiss Re (SSREF.OB) in a dispute in regards to a life insurance agreement between them in 2010, as was first reported on Monday by Insurance Insider. Swiss Re said in its third quarter earnings report that Berkshire Hathaway is “alleging damages of between $0.5 and $1 billion”, adding that the claim was without merit. Neither party was available for comments.