Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Business Digest

Goodyear says senior managers disciplined

AKRON, Ohio - The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has disciplined several of its senior managers in Europe in response to an ongoing internal investigation of improper accounting.

Goodyear also disclosed Tuesday that it has discovered what should have been a $16 million charge against earnings largely for understating workers' compensation claims from 1999 to 2003 at one of its domestic plants.

The company did not disclose the location.

In October, Goodyear announced the discovery of accounting problems that forced it to lower net income by $84.7 million since 1998.

Goodyear said Feb. 11 that the Securities and Exchange Commission is expanding its probe of those problems.

The company's accounting investigation is not complete.

The disciplinary actions taken by Goodyear European Union President Michael J. Roney include the "separation" of several senior managers and reprimand of other European personnel. Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said separation could mean dismissal, resignation or retirement.

Citing its personnel policies, Goodyear would not say who or how many employees were affected by the disciplinary actions.

Ex-Adelphia director's testimony questioned

NEW YORK - An attorney for John Rigas on Tuesday questioned the testimony of a former director concerning when he learned the Rigas family was using debt guaranteed by Adelphia Communications Corp. to fund securities purchases.

At the fraud trial for John Rigas and two of his sons Tuesday, attorney Ben Preziosi presented documents from board meetings on March 6, 2002, and earlier that point to the use of debt guaranteed by Adelphia to fund securities purchases.

Last week, former Adelphia director Dennis Coyle had testified he learned the Rigases were using debt that way when it was disclosed to the public on a conference call March 27, 2002.

Former Adelphia chairman Rigas, his sons Timothy and Michael Rigas, and Michael Mulcahey are on trial on charges of conspiracy and fraud. They have pleaded not guilty.

PepsiCo to offer 'mid-calorie' drink

NEW YORK - Aiming at those who can't decide between diet and regular, PepsiCo Inc. Tuesday announced that it is planning to launch a cola with 50 percent less sugar than regular colas.

The new drink, to be called Pepsi Edge, uses a blend of Splenda, a sugar substitute marketed by McNeil Nutritionals, and high-fructose corn syrup.

It will be launched by Pepsi-Cola North America in late summer.

Trial date sought in PeopleSoft case

SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle Corp. and the Department of Justice are seeking a June 21 trial date to resolve an antitrust lawsuit blocking the business software maker's $9.4 billion hostile bid for rival PeopleSoft Inc.

If U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker agrees to the requested date, the trial probably will last until late July, based on a timetable that the adversaries jointly filed in court documents released Tuesday.

Italians investigating 97 bank sales officials

FLORENCE, Italy - Italian tax police said Tuesday they have placed under investigation 97 sales representatives at one of Italy's largest banks for suspected unauthorized financial activities.

Police in Florence said the probe was looking into the dealings of 97 sales representatives at Banca Fideuram, one of Italy's largest asset managers.

Bank One, Janus in contact with regulators

Bank One Corp., the Chicago-based bank being acquired by J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., and Janus Capital Group Inc. are in contact with U.S. regulators who are investigating allegations of improper mutual fund trading.

"We continue to cooperate with regulators," said Bank One spokesman Tom Kelly. He declined further comment. Janus, a Denver-based money manager, remains in "communications with the regulators," said company spokeswoman Shelley Peterson.

The two companies were among the first singled out in what's the biggest-ever probe of trading and sales practices in the $7.5 trillion U.S. mutual fund industry.

CNS shares slide as it cuts earnings view

NEW YORK - Shares of CNS Inc., the maker of the Breathe Right nasal strips, slid Tuesday after it cut its earnings forecast due to the abrupt end of the cold and flu season.

The stock of the Minneapolis-based company closed the day at $11.30, down $2.78, or 20 percent, on heavy volume on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

CNS said Monday that it expects to post a loss instead of a profit for the fiscal 2004 fourth quarter ending March 31.

Kroll buys Mass. credit-reporting firm

NEW YORK - Security company Kroll Inc. Tuesday said it acquired Credit Network Trust for $20.5 million.

New York-based Kroll said it acquired the closely held mortgage credit-reporting company in an effort to expand the wholesale side of its mortgage-lending business.

Framingham, Mass.-based Credit Network Trust has more than 600 clients.

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Business Digest