American Airlines, US Airways must make concessions to merge, Holder says

November 4, 2013
AIRLINES
Holder: Concessions needed for merger

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said American Airlines and US Airways must make broad concessions if they want to settle a lawsuit blocking their proposed merger.

Holder said Monday that the government’s concerns about the merger extend beyond the control that American and US Airways would have at Washington’s busy Reagan National Airport.

The attorney general’s comments show that the parties could try to reach a deal and avoid a Nov. 25 trial on the lawsuit, but also could indicate that the government’s demands may be too steep for the airlines.

The government sued to block the merger, which would create the world’s biggest airline, on grounds that it would restrict competition and drive up prices for consumers on hundreds of routes across the country.

At a news conference in Washington, Holder said his department has focused on forcing American and US Airways to make concessions at key busy airports throughout the United States.

“We will not agree to something that does not fundamentally resolve the concerns that were expressed in the [lawsuit] and do not substantially bring relief to consumers,” Holder said. If there is no settlement, he said, the department is ready to take the case to trial.

American Airlines offered a terse response to Holder’s comments. “Any discussions about settlement to resolve this litigation, whether internal, with DOJ directly or through the mediator, would be private, and we are not going to comment on them in any way,” said Mike Trevino, a spokesman for the airline.

US Airways also said it would not comment on the discussions.

— Associated Press

SOCIAL MEDIA
Twitter raises
IPO price range

Twitter raised the top end of its initial public offering price range by 25 percent and will close its books a day early, signaling strong demand for the most closely watched Silicon Valley debut since Facebook last year.

Amid a red-hot market for IPOs and soaring equity markets, Twitter raised its price range to $23 to $25 per share Monday, but kept the offering size at 70 million shares. That means it will raise up to $2 billion if an overallotment option of 10.5 million shares is exercised.

Twitter is the best known Silicon Valley company to go public since Facebook, though it is seeking a far smaller valuation of up to $13.6 billion compared with Facebook’s $100 billion.

Twitter plans to close the books on the IPO on Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST, a day earlier than scheduled, because of strong demand, according to two people with knowledge of the process.

The IPO is set to price on Wednesday, with shares to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The previous price range was $17 to $20 a share.

The new pricing would value the company at up to $13.6 billion, or about 12.5 to 13.6 times forecast 2014 revenue of $1 billion, according to eMarketer.
Facebook and LinkedIn trade at about 12 times forecast 2014 revenue.

— Reuters

Also in Business

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Orders to U.S. factories rose in September on a big jump in commercial aircraft demand. The Commerce Department said Monday that factory orders increased 1.7 percent in September from August. That followed a 0.1 percent decline in August and a 2.8 percent drop in July. The September gain was driven by a 57.7 percent surge in demand for aircraft. But core capital goods, which include machinery and electronics, fell 1.3 percent in September.

Bill Gross no longer runs the world’s largest mutual fund. Gross’s Pimco Total Return Fund has shrunk by $37.5 billion since the start of this year, ending last month with $247.9 billion in assets, according to data provided by Pacific Investment Management in Newport Beach, Calif. The Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ended October with $251 billion, Vanguard Group spokesman John Woerth said, taking the top spot.

Kellogg is planning to reduce its global workforce by 7 percent as the maker of Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and Special K struggles to persuade Americans to eat more cereal. The company, which also makes Pop Tarts and Eggo waffles, said Monday that it expects earnings per share for the year to be toward the lower end of its previous projection as a result of weaker-than-expected sales. According to FactSet, Kellogg has 31,000 employees, which means that the company plans to cut about 2,170 jobs.

— From news services

Coming Today

10 a.m.: Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for October.

Earnings: CVS Caremark, T-Mobile US, Tesla Motors.

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