Thursday, May 20, 2004

Business digest



Fifth Third settles redlining complaint

DETROIT - Fifth Third Bancorp will invest $3.2 million and open three new branches to settle a federal lawsuit over what officials called discriminatory lending practices by a bank acquired by Fifth Third, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed and tentatively settled Wednesday, charged that Old Kent Financial Corp. and Old Kent Bank of Detroit unlawfully avoided making business and residential loans in predominantly black neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining.

The U.S. Department of Justice said the four-year span of discriminatory practices ended in 2000, a year before Fifth Third's purchase of Old Kent closed. The department is not alleging any wrongdoing on the part of Cincinnati-based Fifth Third, U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins said.

The lawsuit focuses on discrimination in commercial rather than residential lending.

Abercrombie & Fitch names new president

NEW ALBANY, Ohio - Teen retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has hired a Gucci executive to run day-to-day operations.

Robert S. Singer began working Wednesday and will become president and chief operating officer. He will replace Seth Johnson, who is retiring next month as chief operating officer and executive vice president after 12 years with the company.

Singer, 52, has been chief financial officer of Rome-based Gucci Group NV since 1995.

Domino's Pizza slices IPO 24.1 million ways

WASHINGTON - Domino's Pizza Inc., the world's second-largest purveyor of pizzas, Wednesday set the terms of its initial public offering at 24.1 million shares at an estimated price between $15 to $17 a share.

The company said it intends to use part of the proceeds to redeem loans and to prepay notes held by the company's founder, Thomas Monaghan, and his wife.

Airline orders Evendale engines

CFM International has won an order valued at $200 million to supply engines for Boeing 737-800 jetliners ordered by a low-cost Brazilian carrier.

Gol Transportes Aereos placed a firm order for 15 of the twin-engine 737-800s and options for an additional 28 aircraft. The CFM engines are assembled jointly by GE Aircraft Engines in Evendale and Snecma Moteurs of France.

Anheuser-Busch buys stake in China

ST. LOUIS - Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. on Wednesday completed the purchase of a 29 percent stake in China's Harbin Brewery Group Ltd., prompting speculation the brewer will try to buy the company before rival SABMiller PLC does.

The world's biggest brewer will pay $139 million for the stake in Harbin, purchased through Global Conduit Holdings Ltd., a holding company for the city of Harbin. The deal requires approval from Chinese authorities.

China's beer market is far less profitable than in developed countries. Still, large brewers are eager to establish a foothold in a market that surpassed the United States in 2002 to become the world's largest.

European Union ends biotech moratorium

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Bowing to pressure from Washington, the European Union lifted a six-year moratorium on new biotech foods Wednesday by allowing into the EU market a modified strain of sweet corn grown mainly in the United States.

The Bush administration, which accused the EU last year of violating international trade rules, welcomed the approval Wednesday but insisted its complaint at the World Trade Organization would go forward.

New airline to link D.C. and Louisville

LOUISVILLE - A new airline plans to start flying from Louisville International Airport to the Washington area this summer.

Independence Air, a spin-off of Atlantic Coast Airlines, made the announcement Wednesday.

The airline will fly 50-seat jets between Louisville and Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia six times a day.

Fares will range from $69 to $125 for a one-way ticket, the company said in a statement.




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