Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Business digest

Compiled from wire reports

Delta shares sink on weak outlook

ATLANTA - Shares of Delta Air Lines plunged Tuesday after the nation's third-largest carrier said it expects negative cash flow from operations this quarter due to concern over a potential war with Iraq.

Delta, which lost nearly $1.3 billion last year, offered the bleak outlook late Monday. In January, the airline stated that cash flow from operations was expected to be slightly positive for the quarter.

United seeks more time for bankruptcy

CHICAGO - United Airlines is asking a bankruptcy judge for up to six more months to file a reorganization plan, citing the size and complexity of its case.

Under federal law, the airline is required to file detailed plans with the bankruptcy court by the four-month mark of its Chapter 11 filing, which would be April 8.

But United said in a court filing made available electronically Tuesday that the transformation plan at the core of its reorganization, which calls for a low-cost carrier that its employees oppose, "remains a work in progress."

It asked that the deadline be pushed back until Oct. 6.

Auction houses to pay $40M over price suits

NEW YORK - Auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's, moving to clear the legal mess left behind by a price-fixing scandal, said Tuesday they will pay $40 million to settle class-action claims by overseas customers.

Each auction house will pay $20 million in the settlement, which lawyers said could eventually involve tens of thousands of customers worldwide.

A judge still must approve the deal.

The U.S. government has said the houses colluded in 1993 to end a costly rivalry.

Global investigation shows no wrongdoing

LOS ANGELES - An internal investigation at Global Crossing Ltd. has cleared senior managers of allegedly falsifying network capacity transactions to boost sales and stock prices.

A report released Monday examined 16 exchanges of fiber-optic network capacity that allowed the revenue to show immediately on the company's ledgers while expensing the cost of the transactions which took months to report.

The company's directors and managers relied heavily on capacity swaps with other companies during 2000 and 2001 and they did not question the propriety of the transactions, the report said.

The internal probe stemmed from accusations made in an August 2001 letter to top executives by Roy Olofson, who was the former vice president of finance.

British toy maker PLC confirms takeover offer

LONDON - Character Group PLC, a toy company that features Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder, confirmed Tuesday that it has received an informal takeover approach from a U.S. company, which it did not identify.

The company said that initial discussions have begun but said "they are at a very early stage and that any deal would have to fully reflect the group's prospects."

Local index hits a new low
Airlines ask help with war losses
Kroger meets Wall St. expectations
Making way for new mall
Expert: Ohio can choose high-tech economic future
Nonprofits get chance at $25,000
ImClone's Waksal agrees to fine, ban
Lenders can get $1 million in special grants
Groups sue about manure rules change
OPEC output to stay current, delegates say
Henkel buys stake in Wella
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