Wednesday, April 2, 2003

Business digest

Compiled from wire reports

Air Canada seeks bankruptcy shield

Air Canada said Tuesday it was filing for bankruptcy protection from creditors, seeking time to reorganize its business and negotiate concessions from unions and help from the government.

Air Canada is by far the country's largest airline and the only scheduled Canadian carrier with an extensive route network to the United States and other foreign destinations. It employs more than 30,000 people.

The move means Air Canada will continue flying during a reorganization period, but shows its difficulty coping with the industry downturn after the 9-11 terrorist attacks now exacerbated by the war in Iraq and mystery illness spreading from Asia.

Union turns down offer from Kroger

A union representing workers at 13 Kroger grocery stores in Indiana has rejected what the company said was its best and final contract offer for employees of its Sav-On departments.

Local 700 of the Commercial Workers International Union represents about 300 employees who work in the Sav-On departments - deli, bakery and non-food - of Fort Wayne-area Kroger stores. Union members rejected the contract by a 2-to-1 margin, a spokesman said.

Teen's acquittal appealed in DVD case

A Norwegian court will hear the appeal of a teenager's acquittal on charges he created and circulated online a program that cracks the security codes on DVDs, prosecutors said.

Jon Lech Johansen, 19, was acquitted of violating Norway's data break-in laws Jan. 7. The Oslo court said Johansen could not be convicted of breaking into DVD films he legally owned, or of providing a tool others might use to copy films illegally.

HealthSouth can't file annual report

Unsure of its own worth because of bogus accounting, HealthSouth Corp. said it can't file an annual report and postponed its shareholder meeting.

Already the target of a government lawsuit alleging massive fraud and at least 18 shareholder suits, the health care giant said it was unable to compile the annual report required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ex-Kmart supplier files for Chapter 11

Grocery distributor Fleming Cos. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday in Dallas, a month after ending ties to its largest customer, the retailer Kmart Corp.

Fleming announced last week that its lenders were unlikely to extend new credit and that it was talking with vendors and others for new short-term financing.

The grocery distributor has been rocked by the collapse into bankruptcy last year of Kmart, which at one time accounted for one-fifth of Fleming revenues.

Kmart terminated its 10-year contract with Fleming, worth an estimated $4.5 billion, in March.

McDonald's may modify sandwiches

McDonald's Corp. is contemplating making changes to its sandwiches, including reformulating the hamburger buns and bringing back the Big Mac's original "special sauce" recipe, according to attendees at a company convention.

The tinkering with the buns is meant to make them toast more easily.

Filet-O-Fish sandwiches will be steamed to melt their cheese and improve overall flavor, attendees said.

Management said the Oak Brook, Ill., company would reduce the number of restaurants slated for "reimaging," a process where restaurants are remodeled or rebuilt, attendees said.

Visa, MasterCard still defendants

A federal judge has denied a request by Visa USA and MasterCard International to throw out an antitrust lawsuit against the credit card giants, clearing the way for a trial later this month.

In a ruling issued Tuesday in Brooklyn, U.S. District Judge John Gleeson rejected defense arguments Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other plaintiffs failed to produce evidence Visa and MasterCard conspired to monopolize the lucrative debit-card market.

Wal-Mart, Sears Roebuck and Co. and other merchants across the nation are seeking billions of dollars in damages in a class-action suit brought in 1996.

P&G invests in minority firm
Vidal Sassoon sues for control of brand
Broadwing exec departed with $4.3M
Park to introduce food fit for a Kings Island fan
Former Bengals coach out cash
Manufacturing, construction took prewar hit
PEALE: What's the buzz?
Tristate summary
Morning Memo

House, Senate leaders seek more money to aid airlines
American Airlines cuts 21% of pilots
Big 3 automakers see drop in sales
GM, Chrysler announce new incentives
Business digest
Industry notes: Banking