Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Business Digest

USA ups its stock equity

Enquirer staff and news services

        USA Interactive on Monday announced a multibillion-dollar plan to increase its equity ownership in three publicly traded subsidiaries, Expedia Inc., Hotels.com and Ticketmaster, by purchasing their shares with as much as $4.5 billion worth of its own stock.

        Stockholders of the online travel and entertainment ticket selling units will be offered an exchange of their shares for USA shares according to conversion ratios that, in each case, reflect a premium of 7.5 percent over Friday's closing price.

        Barry Diller, USA's chairman and chief executive, said the offers aren't “hostile,” but rather said it is “great news.”

        The announcement sent shares of Expedia, Hotels.com and Ticketmaster higher, while USA Interactive's stock price fell by more than 12 percent to $24.90 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


Airfares rolled back

        For the third time in less than two months, several major airlines have reversed a $20 increase on round-trip leisure fares.

        Continental Airlines, which initiated the fare increase late last week, rolled it back over the weekend after it became apparent that some carriers refused to go along with the move.

        American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines, which had matched the fare increase on advance-purchase tickets that require a Saturday night stay, also reversed course.


Sotheby's for sale?

        A. Alfred Taubman, the former chairman of Sotheby's Holdings Inc., said he is working with the auction house to explore the possible sale of the company or his nearly 63 percent voting stake in it.

        Mr. Taubman, 78, who was slapped with a prison sentence in April for his role in a price-fixing scheme that shook the auction industry, said in a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission that he is also studying a possible merger of the company.

        He also said he has agreed not to make a deal to sell his shares for 90 days without Sotheby's consent.


Bankruptcy filed

        Birmingham Steel Corp., which makes concrete reinforcing bars for the construction industry, sought bankruptcy protection from creditors to complete its sale to Nucor Corp., the second largest U.S. steelmaker.

        Birmingham Steel listed $487.5 million in assets and $681.9 million in debts in Chapter 11 papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.


Williams stock falls

        Shares of Williams Cos. plummeted a record 23 percent amid concern regulators may probe the pipeline company's natural-gas trading in California.

        Jones Murphy, a former employee of Tulsa, Okla.-based Williams, said the company tried to corner California's gas market during last year's energy crisis. He said he also raised concerns about credit risk with Enron Corp. and business with California utilities in late 2000. Bill Hobbs, chief executive of energy trading, denied the allegations to investors and analysts.


T-bill rates down
Interest rates on short-term Treasury securities fell in Monday's auction.

        The Treasury Department sold $17 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 1.720 percent, down from 1.730 percent last week. An additional $15 billion was sold in six-month bills at a rate of 1.875 percent, down from 1.890 percent.

        The three-month rate was the lowest since April 22 when the bills sold for 1.690 percent. The six-month rate was the lowest since May 13 when the rate was 1.870 percent.

        The new discount rates understate the actual return to investors — 1.752 percent for three-month bills with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,956.50 and 1.919 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,905.20.


Andersen employees defecting
Erpenbeck camp claims forgery
Top exec's exit is latest blow for Tyco
Tourism goes regional
State pulling travel brochures that promote Indiana casinos
Woman is executive editor of Detroit Free Press
Automakers looking up
ISM bolsters recovery hopes
Libel on the Internet?
Microsoft, SEC settle complaint
Napster's newest chapter: 11
Prosecutors imply Riley should have expected inquiry
Software glitch cancels Knight trades
StarBand claims merger was blocked
- Business Digest
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