Thursday, April 29, 2004

Business digest

Wella shareholders say P&G offer too low

Wella AG shareholders said Wednesday that Procter & Gamble's offer to boost its per-share offer for remaining preferred shares of Wella fell short of their expectations.

Procter & Gamble Co. had increased its per-share offer 12 percent for the preferred Wella shares to buy out minority investors and accelerate the integration of the German hair-products maker it acquired last year.

Shareholders advised by Close Brothers Corporate Finance Ltd. said the offer of 72.86 euros ($86.34) was too low. The group, which includes Elliott International LP, accounts for almost 30 percent of the preferred shares.

Procter & Gamble, which already owns 99.6 percent of Wella's voting shares and 81.1 percent of the total stock, said full control would allow it to better manage Wella and transfer profits from the business to itself. Shares of Procter & Gamble rose 25 cents to $105.24 Wednesday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Wella shares were unchanged at 87.13 euros on the Frankfurt exchange.

U.S. charges 4 under new spam e-mail law

WASHINGTON - U.S. authorities charged four people in Detroit on Wednesday with e-mailing fraudulent sales pitches for weight-loss products, the first criminal prosecutions under the government's new "can spam" legislation.

Court papers identified the four as Daniel J. Lin, James J. Lin, Mark M. Sadek and Christopher Chung, all believed living in suburban Detroit. They were accused of disguising their identities in hundreds of thousands of e-mail sales pitches and delivering e-mails by bouncing messages through unprotected relay computers on the Internet.

Authorities said their company sold a weight-loss patch under the corporate names AIT Herbal, Avatar Nutrition, Phoenix Avatar and others.

Boeing Co. raises estimates for 2005

CHICAGO - Boeing Co. swung to a $623 million profit in the first quarter and raised estimates Wednesday for revenue and earnings into 2005, citing signs of stabilization in the long-shaky commercial jet market and impressive sales from its military business.

CEO Harry Stonecipher said he was encouraged by the improving airplane market but acknowledged continuing difficulties with Boeing's efforts to end controversies over its ethical practices, which have left a lucrative air-tanker deal and its ability to bid on government rocket contracts on hold for months.

Court upholds rules on phone regulation

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld state regulations that allow local telephone companies to charge the market price for custom phone plans as long as they agree to hold the line on basic services.

The court, ruling unanimously, turned down an appeal by the office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel, which had argued that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio adopted the rules without holding proper hearings.

Time Warner says TV, film boosted profit

NEW YORK - Time Warner Inc., the world's largest media company, reported Wednesday that its first quarter profits more than doubled from the same period a year ago, powered by stronger results in its film and television divisions.

Time Warner also reported improved results and a slowdown in subscriber defections from its America Online division.

For the period ending March 31, the company posted net earnings of $961 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, well ahead of the year-ago figures of $396 million, or 9 cents per share.

Enron to pay $35M to settle allegations

HOUSTON - Enron Corp. has agreed to pay $35 million in a settlement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over allegations it sought to illegally manipulate natural gas prices in its trading practices.

But the penalty announced Wednesday will go to the back of the line behind thousands of the bankrupt company's other creditors - meaning the agency won't be paid.

WEBN reasserts its morning lead
Jet engines give lift to GE forecast
Car quality improves in '04
Milacron ventures into China
Peale: CSO hopes Jammin' on Main concert has a comeback year
Second tech exec leaves Chamber
Delta union wants laid-off pilots recalled
Comcast out of picture, but Disney must refocus
Disputes fester over overtime
AIDS drug encounters disappointing launch
Declines in profit, revenue don't shake Cincinnati Bell
Tristate business summary
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