Thursday, March 28, 2002

Business Digest

Adelphia takes hit

        Adelphia Communications Corp. shares plunged 18 percent after the sixth-biggest U.S. cable company said it has $2.3 billion in debt not included on its balance sheet. Adelphia shares dropped $3.69 to $16.70. The stock has declined 46 percent this year. The Coudersport, Pa.-based company said the debt was part of a “co-borrowing” arrangement with affiliates it didn't identify.

        Adelphia also announced a $1.15 billion writedown for the value of a former telephone unit, Adelphia Business Solutions, which filed for bankruptcy Wednesday. That unit was spun off Jan. 11.

Morton's goes private

        Morton's Restaurant Group Inc. agreed to be repurchased by its former owner, Castle Harlan Inc., for about $52.8 million, and the steakhouse operator will become a private company.

        Shareholders will receive $12.60 for each share held, New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Morton's said. The offer is 9.1 percent more than Tuesday's closing price of $11.55. Morton's said it had 4.19 million shares outstanding in a March 14 statement. Morton's shares have fallen 58 percent since May 1, when the company first put itself up for sale.

Guidant-Novartis deal

        Guidant Corp. is licensing a Novartis AG drug as a coating for a stent that the medical-device maker hopes will help prevent new clogging in arteries opened by angioplasty. Guidant is gaining rights to Novartis's experimental medicine everolimus. Novartis will supply data to support Guidant's regulatory filings and receive milestone payments and a royalty on sales of Guidant products that use the drug.

Internet buyout, an Internet service provider that registers domain names, bought rival Virtual Internet Plc for about $9 million, gaining European customers.

        New York-based offered $17 million for Virtual Internet on Feb. 1. London-based Virtual Internet has $8 million in cash on hand, making's payment about $9 million, the companies said.

        Virtual Internet was losing more than twice the amount it makes in sales.

EU adopts steel tariffs

        The European Union's head office formally adopted tariffs of up to 26 percent on steel Wednesday to prevent a feared flood of cheap imports from countries hit by U.S. protective measures. Labeling the U.S. tariffs, which took effect last week, “unfounded, unnecessary and unfair,” EU officials in Brussels, Belgium said they were forced to respond in kind to safeguard Europe's own shaky steel industry.

Scalded get no money

        McDonald's customers should know that coffee and tea are served hot, a British judge said Wednesday in a ruling against 36 people who claimed they were scalded by drinks bought at the fast food chain. High Court Justice Richard Field said McDonald's has no obligation to warn customers about the risk of scalding.

        In 1994, an 82-year-old New Mexico woman was awarded $2.7 million after McDonald's coffee spilled in her lap.


New standards should clear the air
Realtors aim to keep sales pace
Judge OKs PocketScript's plan
Downtown, N.Ky. hotel occupancy rates up in Feb.
Five job centers opening
Andersen searches for boss, buyers for pieces
Sioux City Stockyards closing
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