PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 23

Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:40am EST

Jan 23 (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.

* The Justice Department accused USIS, the government's largest private security background check contractor, of defrauding the country of millions of dollars by methodically filing more than 660,000 flawed background investigations. ()

* Syria and the United States opened a long-awaited peace conference by clashing over the fate of President Bashar al-Assad, exposing the depths of division and pessimism about any progress at the first talks in nearly three years of war. ()

* Taiwan prosecutors charged several former employees of Foxconn, a top supplier to Apple Inc and other technology firms, for breach of trust, the latest development in a bribery investigation that began a year ago. ()

* China's economy started the year on a weaker note, as an initial gauge of manufacturing activity in January slipped to its lowest level in six months. ()

* Last spring, Amazon.com Inc moved to end its relationship with one of its biggest third-party sellers, saying that company had offered products that were illegal or otherwise prohibited. Within months, however, an employee of the e-commerce company unwittingly reached out to that same seller, DAB Unlimited, to coach it on how to increase its volume. ()

* Activist investor Carl Icahn has called for eBay to spin off its PayPal business into a separate company, the company said in its quarterly earnings report. ()

* Boeing is adding hundreds of contract workers at its South Carolina plant to try to curb production problems that threaten to impede plans to maintain high production rates for its flagship 787 Dreamliner jets. ()

* Stripe Inc, a payments startup, has raised about $80 million in new funding this week from venture capital investors including Khosla Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Founders Fund, said brothers John and Patrick Collison. Stripe, at just over four years old, is now valued at $1.75 billion. ()

* The Chinese units of the Big Four accounting firms should be suspended from auditing U.S.-traded companies for six months, a judge ruled, a move that could complicate the audits of dozens of Chinese companies and some U.S.-based multinationals. ()

* Talks between Credit Suisse Group and U.S. authorities on settling allegations the Swiss bank helped Americans evade taxes have intensified, and a settlement of more than $800 million could be struck in the first half of the year, people familiar with the situation said. ()

* Netflix Inc said it added 2.33 million U.S. streaming subscribers in the fourth quarter, sending its shares soaring in after hours trading, and signaled it is considering pricing changes that would be aimed at targeting different market segments. ()

* Lenovo Group Ltd is close to a deal to buy International Business Machines Corp's low-end server business, according to a person familiar with the matter. A deal could be announced as soon as Thursday, the people said. ()

* Security experts believe the malicious software that infected Target Corp was in part the work of a 23-year-old in southern Russia who counted punk rock as a hobby.

* VMware Inc announced a $1.54 billion deal to buy closely held AirWatch, the big software company's first major move to exploit the mobile device boom. ()

* Carl Icahn has added about $500 million to his Apple Inc investment, he said Wednesday, and is planning to push again for more share buybacks ahead of the technology company's expected earnings release Monday. ()

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