Thursday, May 1, 2003

Business digest

From wire reports

Once-mighty steel maker is no more

PHILADELPHIA - Bethlehem Steel Corp., the mighty company that made the skeleton of Rockefeller Plaza, beams for the Golden Gate Bridge and armor plate for countless warships, faded into history Wednesday with the stroke of a pen.

The bankrupt steelmaker's executives and lawyers began signing paperwork transferring ownership of the company's mills to International Steel Group, a new steel company based in Cleveland.

The company employed 300,000 people during its World War II peak.

Retirees' pensions were taken over by a government protection fund Wednesday and their health benefits are being eliminated.

Stewart's business loss larger than forecast

NEW YORK - The lingering cloud surrounding an insider trading probe of Martha Stewart continues to take a toll on her namesake company, which posted a larger-than-expected loss Wednesday for the first quarter as revenue dropped 15 percent.

With no clear sign when the domesticity maven's legal issues will be resolved, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. also projected results for the second quarter well below analysts' expectations.

Mall owner takes protective strategy

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - Shopping mall owner Taubman Centers Inc. is spending up to $103 million to buy back company shares in an effort to counter threats of a hostile takeover by a rival mall operator.

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. and Westfield America Inc. are offering $1.7 billion for Taubman.

Simon Property is mounting a battle to replace as many as four of Taubman Centers' nine board members, the Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.

Two brokers will pay to settle SEC case

WASHINGTON - Two former stockbrokers will pay more than $1 million to settle claims of illegal short selling, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday.

Ethan Weitz, 31, of Manalapan, Fla., and Robert Altman, 33, of New York, didn't admit to or deny the SEC's claims they illegally sold stocks short before share offerings.

The barred brokers will return $511,367 in profits from the sales and pay the same amount in fines. Both agreed to be permanently banned from participating in secondary offerings in the future.

The allegedly illegal sales involved 15 stocks sold from 1999 until 2002. The stocks weren't identified in the complaint.

Hula Hoop maker expands to snowboards

EMERYVILLE, Calif. - Wham-O Inc. said Tuesday it bought the assets of snowboard maker Riva Sports Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition gives Wham-O, which makes Frisbees and Hula Hoops, an expanded line of plastic snowboards to complement its lineup of foam snowboards.

The deal will push privately held Wham-O's projected revenue for this year to nearly $100 million.

Buyer pulls out of Global Crossing deal

NEW YORK - National security concerns forced a Hong Kong-based conglomerate to pull out of the $250 million purchase of bankrupt fiber-optic carrier Global Crossing Ltd. on Wednesday, leaving the deal in the hands of a partner in Singapore.

Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa and Singapore Technologies Telemedia originally agreed last year to pay $125 million each and together assume a 61.5 percent total stake in Global Crossing.

But critics of the deal, including some members of Congress, have questioned whether Hutchison has ties to the Chinese government.

Hutchison pulled out, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia agreed to pay the full $250 million for the stake. Otherwise, the deal essentially remains the same.

Fewer union jobs at American Airlines

FORT WORTH, Texas - Executives of cash-strapped American Airlines are moving quickly to slash their unionized work force by an estimated 7,000 employees under new concessionary contracts.

The company Wednesday started sending notices to about 1,300 mechanics and related workers represented by the Transport Workers Union, to become effective May 16. New contracts with three key unions kick in today. The carrier notified 5,000 junior flight attendants Tuesday that they could be laid off as early as July 1.

Delta asks pilots for pay cut
Kroger leaves Derby floral designers in dust
Fed chief foresees gradual growth
Grocers to alter labels on color-enhanced salmon
Provident shows greater profits
Tyco says audit finds new problems in books
DHL will have American owner, lawyers tell judge
GE eliminating 80 engine-repair jobs
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