Enron's creditors stand to recover as much as $5 billion in assets that were improperly moved off the bankrupt energy trader's books, according to a report by an examiner in the bankruptcy case. The report focuses on opinions by law firms such as Houston's Vinson & Elkins that allowed Enron to create off-the-books partnerships known as special purpose entities, which Enron used to boost its reported profits and hide debt. Separately, examiner Neal Batson asked to subpoena seven Credit Suisse First Boston traders to testify about deals they performed for Enron.
Chavez Calls for Currency Crackdown
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is calling for 14-year prison terms for violators of the currency controls he imposed to stabilize the country's reserves, depleted by a national strike aimed at ousting him. Under a bill the government plans to submit to congress, participants in the black market for dollars also would face fines of as much as 10 times the transaction amount, said the head of the foreign exchange commission.
Union leaders for American Airlines mechanics and ground workers rejected a company proposal seeking $620 million in savings, saying the carrier hasn't proven that that amount is needed to stay out of bankruptcy. American had given the Transport Workers Union unspecified options to serve as a basis for negotiations. The amount is part of the $1.8 billion in labor cuts the airline says it needs to avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Northrop Grumman significantly lowered the range for its projected 2003 earnings to reflect higher interest payments as it reduces its debt. The defense giant said earnings this year will range from $3.65 to $4.15 per share, compared with a previous forecast of $4 to $4.50.
Taubman Centers' board rejected rival mall company Simon Property Group's latest offer to structure a takeover that would minimize taxes for the company's founding family. Taubman Centers' board turned down the offer after "full consideration" of what was best for shareholders, according to a letter to Simon Property chief executive David Simon and chief executive Peter Lowy of Westfield America, Simon Property's partner in the bid.
The service sector grew at a modest pace in February, amid a renewed shrinkage in employment, the Institute for Supply Management said. The group said its non-manufacturing index moved to 53.9 in February from 54.5 in January, a small decline in the overall rate of growth. Index readings above 50 indicate expansion of activity and prices in the non-manufacturing sector, while readings under 50 denote contraction.
Amtrak will begin using the brand name "Acela" to describe only its premier high-speed train, Acela Express. Until now, conventional trains that travel the Northeast Corridor along with the high-speed trains have been known as "Acela Regional." Starting March 17, they will be called "Regional."
Aetna has begun collecting data on the racial and ethnic backgrounds of its 14 million health plan members in what the insurer says is an effort to narrow the gap in medical treatment between whites and minorities. Aetna said it hopes to develop programs to narrow the gap and stressed that it will not use the information to limit coverage based on race.
Conseco said its troubled Conseco Finance unit will be split and sold to two groups in a deal valued at $1.01 billion. The buyers are CFN Investment Holdings, a joint venture of J.C. Flowers, Fortress Investment Group and Cerberus Capital Management, and GE Consumer Finance.
Today's Man, a men's clothing retailer in the Washington, Philadelphia and New York areas, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors for the second time in seven years. The company listed $37.8 million in assets and $36.5 million in debts.
Nestle is being asked by U.S. antitrust enforcers to sell the Starbucks ice-cream brand and retail delivery systems, in addition to three ice cream brands and local distribution networks it had previously offered to sell, in order to complete its takeover of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, people familiar with the discussions said. The Federal Trade Commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to challenge the combination.
A federal judge threw out the University of Rochester's contention that it is owed billions of dollars in royalties on sales of the arthritis drug Celebrex. U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer declared invalid the university's patent on COX-2 inhibitors, the scientific name for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex. The university had sued drugmakers Pharmacia and Pfizer, which is in the process of acquiring Pharmacia .
Goodyear Tire & Rubber said it arranged a $1.3 billion credit line from banks as the company works to restructure and extend some loan agreements. The company also won more time to comply with loan covenants. The struggling tiremaker last month said it was renegotiating loans, including $1.1 billion through two credit lines, to avoid breaching terms. An initial waiver of provisions was to expire tomorrow.
Raytheon said the cost of completing two Massachusetts power plants may be as much as 38 percent more than expected because of further delays. It also predicted a drop in 2004 profit from 2003 because of higher pension costs. The defense contractor still expects a 2003 profit from continuing operations of $1.70 to $1.80 a share. Profit from continuing operations will drop to $1.60 to $1.70 in 2004, Raytheon said.
Bombardier, the world's biggest maker of train cars and small commercial jets, will eliminate 3,000 jobs at plants in Canada and Ireland over the next year as it slows production to cope with falling aircraft orders. The job cuts amount to about 4 percent of the Montreal-based company's workforce.
Ship operators that spill oil in European waters could be jailed under rules proposed by the European Commission. The European Union's executive arm has asked governments to approve rules tightening legal responsibility for accidents. Governments have already agreed to retire single-hulled tankers that are more than 23 years old and to ban them from transporting heavy fuel to European ports.
Marriott International's planned sale of its senior living unit took a step forward when a judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to stop Marriott from transferring management contracts on 31 of the centers. Bethesda-based Marriott agreed to sell the unit to Sunrise Assisted Living for $150 million in December.
General Dynamics, the Falls Church-based defense contractor, boosted its quarterly dividend 6.6 percent, to 32 cents per share. The increased dividend will be paid May 9.
Costco Wholesale said second-quarter earnings fell 5.4 percent, to $182.1 million, because insurance costs increased and sales growth slowed. Revenue climbed 7.8 percent, to $10.1 billion.
Staples said fourth-quarter net income rose 75 percent, to $165 million, from the same period a year ago, as the office-supply chain improved sales to small businesses and sold more of its in-house brand. Sales rose 14 percent, to $3.3 billion.
Toys R Us said fourth-quarter net income jumped 76 percent, to $278 million, because it had lower operating expenses amid slow holiday sales. The company plans to eliminate about 200 more jobs. Sales rose 2.3 percent, to $4.87 billion.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers