Tuesday, July 8, 2003

Business digest


UAL attendants union angered by pay plan

From wire reports

CHICAGO - United Airlines' flight attendants union on Monday assailed the carrier's plan to give 20 percent raises to as many as 600 professional and technical employees, just two months after pay cuts took effect for most workers.

United proposed the bonus-pay plan in a federal bankruptcy court filing Thursday, saying it needs to stop the exodus of its information services and computer programming employees to rival airlines and other employers.

The airline seeks to boost the workers' annual base pay by a total of 20 percent over six months in hopes of fending off what it says has been a serious "brain drain" of information services employees considered key to its Chapter 11 reorganization.

Mass. studying claims vs. Microsoft

WASHINGTON - Massachusetts is investigating whether Microsoft Corp. retaliated against a computer maker for promoting a rival operating system, a possible violation of the company's landmark settlement with the Bush administration and 18 other states.

Lawyers for the state told the judge in the antitrust case that they were investigating other complaints. Microsoft said it was complying fully with the settlement.

Mixed results for treasury securities

WASHINGTON - Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities were mixed in Monday's auction.

The Treasury Department sold $17 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.890 percent, up from 0.885 percent last week. An additional $18 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 0.940 percent, down from 0.950 percent.

The three-month rate was the highest since June 9, when the bills sold for 1.005 percent. The six-month rate was the lowest since June 23, when the rate was 0.840 percent.

Grocer investigated for false documents

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Following weekend raids on the headquarters of Ahold, the Dutch public prosecutor's office said Monday it has begun a criminal investigation into the global grocery retailer for allegedly falsifying documents and publishing incorrect information in its annual reports.

Ahold said in a statement that its head offices in the Netherlands had been raided, and that it had "given its full cooperation" to investigators. The Dutch offices of Ahold's accountant, Deloitte & Touche, also were raided.

The probe by the prosecutor was a widening of the investigation begun in April, two months after Ahold shocked financial markets by announcing it had massively overstated earnings in 2001 and 2002.

Fenway Partners to buy helmet maker

Fenway Partners Inc., a Boston buyout firm, said it bought Riddell Sports Group Inc. for about $100 million to help the maker of football helmets and athletic uniforms expand product offerings and acquire companies.

Riddell, which had about $100 million in revenue last year, is the largest manufacturer of football helmets and the top helmet supplier to the National Football League, the company said in a statement. Fenway bought Riddell from Lincolnshire Management Inc., a private equity firm that owned the company since buying it for $61 million in 2001.

Cool Brands in deal for ice cream

MARKHAM, Ontario - CoolBrands International Inc. said Monday it agreed to buy some brands and distribution assets from Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Inc. and Nestle SA for about $10 million.

Under the agreement, CoolBrands acquired Dreyer's premium Dreamery and Godiva labels, the Whole Fruit sorbet brand, and Nestle's U.S. rights to the Haagen Dazs brand.

Markham-based CoolBrands markets ice cream and frozen desserts.

Claims dismissed on movie, song industries

LOS ANGELES - The distributor of the Kazaa software for sharing songs, movies and other files online cannot pursue an antitrust lawsuit against major recording labels and movie studios, a federal judge ruled.

Sharman Networks made the antitrust claims in January as part of its defense of a copyright infringement suit filed by the entertainment firms.




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