Koch Industries, a Kansas-based oil and gas conglomerate, was found to have defrauded the U.S. government by mismeasuring oil purchases on federal and Indian lands. Koch was ordered to pay damages of $553,504 for making 24,587 false claims that allowed Koch to pay less than it should have for oil, a federal jury said. Punitive damages, to be decided by a judge, could total more than $200 million.
ICF Kaiser International will change its name to Kaiser Engineers Inc. on Monday as part of a broad restructuring. Its new symbol will be KSR on the NYSE. Kaiser's plans to restructure $125 million in debt hit a snag, with a proposed credit facility not providing enough liquidity to carry the Fairfax company through its short-term operating prospects. Kaiser is continuing to negotiate a new credit program with potential lenders and with its current creditors.
AutoNation, the largest U.S. auto retailer, sold more than $1 billion in vehicles over the Internet in the past year as its used-car superstores struggle to stay open. The car dealer sold 44,000 new and used vehicles online since December 1998.
General Motors said its effort to expand its use of the Internet will increase profits faster than its other business strategies. The automaker's Internet activities include a global purchasing network for businesses, satellites that deliver e-mail and related services to drivers, and a Web site for selling and delivering vehicles.
A WTO panel ruled that the United States was wrong to impose special duties on British steel products that it claimed benefited from unfair subsidies. The Geneva-based panel said the U.S. measures should be brought into line with WTO open-trading rules and the group's agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures, effectively recommending that the duties be lifted.
Vodafone AirTouch made a formal bid to shareholders of Mannesmann, saying they would lose out if they rejected the offer of 53.7 Vodafone shares for each Mannesmann share. The deal is valued at $132 billion.
Internet retail sites had a 3.8 percent drop in visits by consumers last week, signaling that the heaviest period of online holiday shopping is over. Nielsen/NetRatings said traffic peaked at 17 million visitors during the week ended Dec. 12, and that Sunday was the busiest holiday shopping day so far.
Mesa Air Group, an airline serving the Southwest, plans to repurchase 3,445,000 shares, or 10 percent, of its common stock in an effort to increase the price. Mesa also named Boeing Vice President Robert Stone as chief financial officer.
Naya, a Canadian bottler of spring water, has filed for bankruptcy protection, unable to recover from the loss of a core distributor. Naya has had problems since May, when Coca-Cola stopped distributing Naya's product and introduced its own brand of bottled water, cutting Naya's sales by 60 percent.
Starbucks plans to spend about $300 million during the current fiscal year to open at least 400 coffee shops. Starbucks spent $261.8 million to open 460 stores in its past fiscal year that ended Oct. 3, and also spent $28.3 million to invest in two Internet ventures, Talk City and Living.com.
UBS, Europe's second-largest bank, ended its effort to oust five Grand Union directors after the grocery chain expanded its board to include two UBS nominees. UBS, which has an 8.1 percent stake in Grand Union, had sought to elect the two nominees as part of a plan to establish a board that would consider a sale or merger of the chain.
Sharper Image said sales at its stores open a year or more increased at least 10 percent in December's first 22 days, led by items it designed. Sharper Image also said its profit margin widened from last December, but it didn't disclose specifics or provide sales figures for its 85 stores open at least a year.
Jay Jarrell, 44, a former chief executive at Columbia/HCA Healthcare, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, fined $10,000 and ordered to pay nearly $1.7 million in restitution in an over-billing fraud case. Jarrell's attorneys said they would appeal.
Comcast agreed to acquire the 45 percent of Comcast MHCP Holdings that it doesn't already own for $750 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter. Comcast is buying the share from the California Public Employees' Retirement System.
AMR's fourth-quarter earnings estimates were reduced by two analysts because its American Airlines unit won't receive about $45 million from Canadian Airlines for support services. AMR is forecast to earn 65 cents a share, with per-share forecasts ranging from 55 cents to 85 cents.
RealNetworks' share price fell 13 percent, to $133.56 1/4, on reports that a Yahoo unit will stop using its software for playing audio and video on the Internet, speculation that both companies denied. Message boards said Yahoo's Broadcast unit will stop using the software in favor of Microsoft's Windows Media software.