Belgium's government extended its ban on Coke, Fanta and Sprite but agreed to allow sales of some of Coca-Cola Co.'s other beverages, such as Nestea and Minute Maid, to resume for the first time since Monday, when they were ordered from shelves after dozens of people became ill after drinking Coca-Cola products. And while France partially relaxed its ban on sales of Coke, Switzerland joined a move by other nations to block sales of Coca-Cola drinks produced in Belgium. The company insists there was no toxic contamination of its drinks, but it said substandard gas used to put fizz into the drinks at the Antwerp plant produced an off taste, while fungicide used on crates in the French port of Dunkirk was absorbed by the underside of cans, giving off an "offensive odor."
The airline industry unveiled its "customers first" program promising better service and more information for airline passengers. The program was generally endorsed at a news conference by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. John D. "Jay" Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Slade Gordon (R-Wash.), although all three said it needed a little refinement. Among other things, McCain wants the Transportation Department inspector general to review airline compliance periodically. The airlines agreed that was a good idea.
Software firm eEye is giving away a tool that lets computer hackers exploit a major security flaw in a Microsoft program that runs about 1.4 million Web sites. The security threat could expose personal data such as credit card numbers to thieves, although no such attacks on Web sites have yet been reported. EEye said it released the tool on the Internet because Microsoft wasn't acting fast enough to fix the problem. But Microsoft decried the tactic as a dangerous publicity stunt.
Amtrak pledged that rail passengers would get good service or a voucher for a free ride. The guarantee will take effect later this year. Amtrak hopes its planned service improvements will boost revenue by $85 million over three years.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is buying Hearst's book publishing operations, consisting of William Morrow & Co. and Avon Books, for an undisclosed amount. The sale, which had been rumored for some time, further solidifies the position of News Corp.'s HarperCollins, which has spent the last two years overcoming a severe profit plunge.
PacifiCorp shareholders approved what would be the first foreign purchase of a U.S. utility -- a $7.9 million takeover by Scottish Power. The results of Tuesday's vote were released yesterday at the company's annual meeting. PacifiCorp serves 1.5 million customers in six Western states, plus 560,000 customers in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales. The takeover cleared a major hurdle Wednesday when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave its approval. Regulators in the United Kingdom and Australia have already signed off on the merger, but state regulatory agencies must give the final go-ahead.
Fidelity Investments increased its proposed bond sale by a third, to $1 billion, confident that investors will snap up securities of the biggest U.S. mutual fund company, said sources familiar with the sale. Fidelity is expected to sell $750 million in 30-year bonds and $250 million in 20-year bonds. Both issues are expected to yield at least 1.4 percentage points more than comparable U.S. Treasury debt, the sources said.
Boeing, the world's biggest planemaker, said five airlines will buy 25 planes costing about $1.4 billion, bringing the value of orders it announced at this week's Paris Air Show to more than $3 billion. Boeing has now secured 118 firm orders this year, including 62 at the air show. Rival Airbus Industrie has won orders for 189 planes so far, with 93 firm orders worth $4 billion at the show.
Kellogg said it may shut a portion of its cereal plant in Battle Creek, Mich., and fire as many as 700 hourly and salaried workers there to reduce costs. The cuts could come as early as the first quarter and account for 4.8 percent of its 14,500 worldwide workers. Carlos Gutierrez, who took over as chairman in April, has been firing workers and slashing costs to free up money for new products and promotions such as coupons.
Xerox said it is building a $325 million inkjet-printer parts factory in Ireland that will employ 1,000 as it seeks to sell more inkjet printers than rivals Hewlett-Packard and Canon. Xerox wants to increase its share of the market for consumer office machines, which is expected to double to $54 billion next year.
Adobe Systems said second-quarter profit rose 61 percent, to $45 million, because of demand for its electronic business and Web development products.
Carnival, the world's largest cruise-line operator, said its second-quarter profit rose 27 percent, to $203.3 million, as it launched new ships and raised prices.
Aether Technologies of Owings Mills and networking giant 3Com formed a joint venture aimed at providing wireless data services to people who use Palm, Windows CE or various other hand-held electronic devices. The new company, Open Sky, hopes to begin service nationwide by the end of this year.
Saks will open a separate Saks Fifth Avenue men's store next spring at Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights. The specialty department store retailer has long wanted to expand in the area but ran out of space at the Saks flagship store just two blocks away from Mazza Galleria. By moving its men's collection down the street, Saks officials said they will free up valuable space at their current location. Saks's decision is considered a coup for developer Daniel McCaffery, who is spending $30 million to renovate Mazza Gallerie and add more popular tenants.