Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Business Digest

From wire reports

Rubbermaid to cut 850 jobs in Wooster

WOOSTER, Ohio - Newell Rubbermaid Inc. said Tuesday it will eliminate 850 production jobs in Wooster, once the showpiece headquarters city of Rubbermaid Inc.

Plant damage from last month's tornado sped up the decision to end plastics production at the facility, spokeswoman Keri Butler said.

Five years ago, before its takeover by Newell Corp., Rubbermaid employed 1,400 people in Wooster. The layoffs will leave Wooster with about 350 administrative employees, Butler said.

Ex-HealthSouth CEO to challenge new law

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Fired HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy will challenge a new corporate corruption law used for the first time against him in a massive fraud case, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, passed last year in the wake of scandals at Enron and other corporate giants, requires chief executives and chief financial officers to certify financial statements as accurate and holds them criminally liable for falsehoods.

Scrushy, 51, faces an 85-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. He is accused of directing accounting fraud at HealthSouth that inflated profit, revenue and assets by $2.7 billion since 1996.

Aurora files Chapter 11 under Pinnacle deal

ST. LOUIS - Aurora Foods Inc., producer of Duncan Hines baking mixes, Lender's bagels and various syrup brands, has filed for bankruptcy protection under a plan to be folded into the maker of Vlasic pickles and Swanson frozen foods.

Aurora, which filed the prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan Monday in Delaware as part of its planned hookup with Pinnacle Foods Holding Corp., said it has secured $50 million of debtor-in-possession financing.

Daimler chief denies taking over Chrysler

WILMINGTON, Del. - DaimlerChrysler AG chairman Juergen Schrempp insisted Tuesday that he "never had a secret plan" to take over Chrysler Corp. when the automaker merged with Daimler-Benz in 1998.

"What we defined ... as a merger of equals was precisely complied with and done," Schrempp told a federal court judge.

Chrysler shareholder Kirk Kerkorian is suing for more than $1 billion in compensatory damages from DaimlerChrysler.

Mortgage Web site settles spam case

WASHINGTON - Two principals of a Florida company must post $1 million bonds before sending junk e-mail, the Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday.

The FTC said the Internet operation's principals have agreed to settle charges brought by the agency.

Accused were 30 Minute Mortgage Inc. company president Gregory P. Roth, and former national sales director Peter W. Stolz.

The agency filed a complaint last January in U.S. district court charging that 30 Minute Mortgage Inc. sent spam and maintained Web sites describing itself as a national mortgage lender and advertised "3.95 percent 30 Year Mortgages."

Instead, the company required applicants to provide sensitive personal information, which was then sold to third parties, the FTC said.

Number-switching goes faster, AT&T says

WASHINGTON - AT&T Wireless is speeding the process of switching customers' numbers to another company, company officials said Tuesday.

The Federal Communications Commission has received more complaints about AT&T than any other wireless company since Nov. 24, when customers were allowed to switch companies without changing cell numbers.

SBC plans to cut up to 4,000 jobs

SAN ANTONIO - SBC Communications Inc., the nation's second-largest telecommunications company, said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter job cuts will total 3,000 to 4,000 positions.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for San Antonio-based SBC, said the reductions, will come through employee buyouts and attrition. No layoffs were planned.

By year-end, SBC will have slashed its employee count by almost 30,000, or roughly 15 percent, since late 2001. The company employed 172,540 people as of Sept. 30.

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