Stocks in the news: Citigroup, Exxon Mobil, Google, Visa

Citigroup Inc. (C) said Monday it is repaying $20 billion in bailout money of the $45 billion it received from the Treasury Department. Citi doesn't need to pay the remaining $25 billion, as the government has converted it into a 34% stake in the bank. Paying back the TARP money would help Citi at least reduce the government's influence over its actions, and give it more control over executive compensation. Citigroup shares dropped about 3.5% ahead of the bell.

Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) will acquire XTO Energy Inc. (XTO) in a $31 billion all-stock agreement. The deal will boost Exxon's presence in the natural gas industry at a time of low prices for the commodity. Exxon Mobil shares declined 1.3% in pre-market trading; XTO's soared about 20%.

Google (GOOG) is also in the spotlight after the The Wall Street Journal reported the search giant plans to market its own cell phone next year.

Morgan Stanley (MS) said on Sunday it has hired former Merrill Lynch President and Chief Operating Officer Gregory Fleming to run its investment management group, the latest in a string of executive level changes.

Cadbury Plc. (CBY) launched a defense against Kraft Foods' (KFT) 10 billion pound ($16.5 billion) takeover bid. It raised its long-term growth targets and reported upbeat trading, kicking off a seven-week fight for its independence.

AOL Inc. (AOL) is in talks to sell its ICQ instant-messaging service to Russian Internet-investment group Digital Sky Technologies, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported. The deal could fetch between $200 million and $300 million, the newspaper's source said. AOL is the parent of DailyFinance.

General Electric Co. (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt will present GE's annual outlook Tuesday in his first face-to-face meeting with investors since agreeing Dec. 3 to sell most of the NBC Universal unit to Comcast Corp. (CMCSA).

Philip Morris (PM) was upgraded at Goldman Sachs to conviction buy from buy Monday. Goldman said its strong earnings growth is being under-appreciated by the market. Shares rose 2% in pre-market trading.

Visa Inc. (V) was tapped by Standard & Poor's late last week for its benchmark S&P 500 Index. Visa will replace Ciena Corp (CIEN) in the index. MBIA Inc. (MBI) will also be removed. Also, Robert W. Baird upgraded Visa to outperform from neutral. Visa shares jumped over 4% ahead of the bell, while Ciena's declined 2% and MBIA's dropped over 4%.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) said Monday that it has named Charles Bancroft, currently vice president of finance, to serve as acting CFO, effective Jan. 1, as its current CFO is leaving the company.

Sun Microsystems (JAVA) shares climbed nearly 10% in pre-market trading after Oracle (ORCL) said it has had constructive discussions with the European Commission over approval of its deal to buy Sun in which it pledged to maintain and periodically enhance MySQL's storage engine architecture. (AMZN) got a mildly unfavorable writeup in Barron's; the financial publication said Wall Street expectations for Amazon could be too high.

Terra Industries Inc (TRA) said its board unanimously rejected a sweetened takeover offer from rival CF Industries (CF). Terra shares plummeted 18% in premarket trading.
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