Thursday, December 11, 2003

Business Digest



From wire reports

Union leader criticizes foreign competition

The Rubbermaid plant in Wooster, Ohio, is the latest casualty to competition with foreign companies heavily subsidized by their governments, a union leader said Wednesday.

"Foreign countries subsidize those industries (competing against U.S. companies)," said Chuck Shaffer, president of the United Steelworkers of America Local 302, which represents Rubbermaid employees.

Newell Rubbermaid Inc. announced Tuesday that it plans to halt production in Wooster and eliminate 850 jobs.

Government revises 2000 economic stat

The longest economic expansion in U.S. history faltered so much in the summer of 2000 that business output actually contracted for one quarter, the government said Wednesday in releasing a comprehensive revision of the gross domestic product.

Based on new data, the Commerce Department said that the GDP - the value of the country's total output of goods and services - shrank by 0.5 percent at an annual rate in the July-September quarter of 2000.

Previously, the government had said GDP was rising at a weak annual rate of 0.6 percent during that quarter.

Schrempp says media distorted remarks

DaimlerChrysler AG chairman Juergen Schrempp testified Wednesday that comments he made three years ago about the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler were misrepresented by the media.

In a 2000 Financial Times interview, Schrempp said the deal was billed as a merger of equals "for psychological reasons" and described Chrysler as a "division" of Daimler.

Testifying in a lawsuit filed by Kirk Kerkorian, who claims Daimler-Benz falsely characterized a takeover as a merger, Schrempp said a Financial Times headline declaring that he never intended a "merger of equals" was "definitely not consistent to what I said."

Kerkorian, whose Tracinda Corp. was the largest Chrysler shareholder at the time of the 1998 merger, claims Daimler-Benz avoided paying him an acquisition fee of up to 62 percent on his shares. He is suing for more than $1 billion in damages from DaimlerChrysler, claiming he and other Chrysler investors were duped.

DaimlerChrysler maintains that Kerkorian supported the deal and grew disgruntled only when his shares lost value.

Yum considers issuing its first dividend

Yum Brands Inc., operator of the Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurant chains, is considering issuing a dividend to make use of its cash.

"For the first time, a dividend is now a possibility and it's something under review," chairman and chief executive officer David Novak said at a conference with analysts and investors in New York.

Dana Corp. to furlough about 200 workers

Auto parts supplier Dana Corp. said it will lay off about 200 workers at its plant in Fort Wayne, Ind., about a third of the plant's work force, next spring after losing a contract with DaimlerChrysler.

Dana said Tuesday the layoffs followed DaimlerChrysler's decision to make axles for the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee at one of its own plants in Detroit rather than at the Dana plant, which had manufactured the axles.

Wal-Mart case goes before grand jury

A grand jury in Pennsylvania is to convene today to consider a case against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in which the world's largest retailer is accused of using illegal workers to clean floors in its stores.

Janitorial companies hired by Wal-Mart were at the center of a 21-state sweep of 60 stores on Oct. 23.

About 250 workers from 18 countries were arrested, and 10 of them were employed by Wal-Mart itself.

Weirton Steel Corp. lays off 250 workers

Bankrupt Weirton Steel Corp. will temporarily lay off 250 workers as it struggles to cut costs and emerge from Chapter 11, company officials said Wednesday.

The latest round is in addition to the layoffs of 85 workers last week and will begin immediately.

The company, located across the Ohio River from Steubenville, Ohio, has many Ohio workers.



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