CNBC "Money Honey" looks to sweeten her pocketbook

Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:00pm EST

By Tim McLaughlin

NEW YORK Jan 29 (Reuters) - CNBC news anchor Maria Bartiromo, whose jet-setting has roiled America's biggest bank, wants to sweeten the pot on her "Money Honey" nickname, making it a brand on children's TV, piggy banks and cookie jars.

A week before Bartiromo's name surfaced in connection with the ouster of Citigroup (C.N) senior executive Todd Thomson, she filed several applications with the U.S. patent office to trademark her Money Honey moniker.

The applications show that Bartiromo is casting a wide net. Besides kids' TV and books, the Money Honey trademark would appear on school supplies, DVDs, mouse pads, jigsaw puzzles, dolls, and backpacks, among other items.

The applications were filed on Jan. 16. Bartiromo was not available for comment.

She's been mum about the Citigroup controversy, but remains a fixture on the business news channel, reporting last week from the snowy backdrop of Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.

The brunette from Brooklyn got her nickname from the New York tabloids in the late 1990s when she started reporting from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Her trademark applications went unnoticed until after Thomson lost his job as the head of Citigroup's wealth management division, which had $10.2 billion in revenue last year. Bartiromo was part of the buzz after published reports said Thomson flew her to New York from China on a Citigroup corporate jet.

Thomson also spent $5 million of corporate funds to sponsor a show on the Sundance Channel that would include Bartiromo as a host, the Wall Street Journal reported. That sort of spending isn't what Citigroup needed as the bank battles to shrink an expense line that's growing faster than revenue.

The rising expenses have put Citigroup Chief Executive Chuck Prince on the hot seat, forcing him to reshuffle executives to improve performance and placate anxious investors weary of the underperforming stock.

CNBC, meanwhile, has backed Bartiromo, saying her plane ride was approved by her managers, and that the business channel paid Citigroup for her flight.

A unit of General Electric Co. (GE.N), CNBC has steered clear in its broadcasts of Bartiromo's connection to the Citigroup story.

Not only have questions been raised about Bartiromo's impartiality in regard to Citigroup, but there has also been criticism of CNBC in journalism circles for avoiding the story.

((Reporting by Tim McLaughlin, editing by Brian Moss; Reuters Messaging: tim.mclaughlin.reuters.com@reuters.net; +1 646 223 6033)) Keywords: BARTIROMO MONEYHONEY/MEDIA

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