SEC Chairman William H. Donaldson called on corporate boards to rein in pay packages and perks for top executives. Chief executives have "steadily increased in power and influence," Donaldson told a group of business economists. "In some cases, the CEO had become more of a monarch than a manager." Making his second speech as SEC chairman, Donaldson laid out his philosophy of corporate governance. "I believe we should go slowly in mandating specific structures and committees for all corporations," he said. "We should be seeking clear assurances of independence without excessive rigidity."
Women Still Lag on Pay, Survey Finds
Women hold almost half the executive and managerial jobs in the United States, but they fall short of men at the top rungs of the salary ladder, the Census Bureau reported. Nearly 46 percent of management positions were filled by women in 2002, up from only about a third in 1983 but virtually unchanged from the record high set in 2001. Almost 16 percent of men working full time earned at least $75,000 a year, compared with 6 percent of women. And 20 percent of men made between $50,000 and $75,000, compared with 12 percent of women, according to a survey taken in March 2002.
HealthSouth, the biggest U.S. operator of rehabilitation hospitals, hired a forensic accounting team to probe its financial reports and a turnaround firm to help it avoid bankruptcy. HealthSouth's accounts may be unreliable back to 1986, a company spokesman said. The Securities and Exchange Commission last week charged the company and chief executive Richard Scrushy with overstating earnings by $1.4 billion since 1999. PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit HealthSouth's accounts, Alvarez & Marsal will provide advice on finances and reorganization, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will handle legal issues, HealthSouth said.
Bethlehem Steel, which has agreed to be bought by International Steel Group for $1.5 billion, won U.S. Bankruptcy Court permission to eliminate health care and life insurance benefits for its retirees. About 90,000 retirees and their spouses will be affected by the March 31 cutoff of benefits.
Symantec, the world's largest maker of software for protecting against computer viruses, will be added to Standard & Poor's 500-stock index after the close of trading Friday. It will replace Household International, the financial services company that is being acquired by HSBC Holdings.
The FTC said operators of what the government contended was an illegal pyramid scheme have agreed to refund $20 million to investors. The money will go to people who lost money after investing in SkyBiz, an Internet-based operation in Tulsa that charged participants $125 for an educational software package and the opportunity to earn money by recruiting others to buy. The companies and their officials did not admit breaking any laws.
T-bill rates rose. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday rose to 1.15 percent, from 1.115 percent last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 1.15 percent from 1.11 percent. The actual return to investors is 1.174 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,970.90, and 1.175 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,941.90. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield on one-year constant-maturity Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 1.32 percent last week, from 1.16 percent the previous week.
Halliburton agreed to review the company's business in Iran after the New York City comptroller asked the provider of oil-field services to reconsider ties with the countries accused of sponsoring terrorism. City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. asked Halliburton, ConocoPhillips and General Electric to review businesses with links to Syria and Iran that pose "financial and reputational risks" for the companies.
A former Adelphia executive said the cable TV company ignored his request to hire an independent investigator to probe payments to one of the firm's directors, the company said in a regulatory filing. In a resignation letter dated March 17, Chief Financial Officer Christopher T. Dunstan said Adelphia failed to adequately disclose the payments to the director, whose name he did not disclose.
Goldman Sachs Group co-President John Thornton resigned to teach in China, leaving John Thain as the leading candidate to succeed Henry Paulson as chief executive. Thornton, 49, will become a professor at Qinghua University in Beijing and continue to advise Paulson and Thain, the firm said.
Coca-Cola Bottling is seeking shareholder approval to change board member terms to comply with recent corporate governance reforms, the company said. The company has proposed reducing terms to one year from three years. It also wants to have all board members elected at the same time.
UnumProvident, the nation's largest disability insurer, said it will restate three years of earnings, showing a net reduction of $29.1 million, in response to issues raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said the issues related to its investment disclosures.
Raytheon, the maker of Hawker private airplanes, said 20 percent of its $4.4 billion in business-jet orders are at risk of being canceled because of a drop in demand and delays in certifying a new aircraft. About $900 million in orders for the new Hawker Horizon could be "restructured or canceled," Raytheon said.
Deutsche Post, Europe's largest postal service, said it is involved in talks about buying the ground operations of Airborne, the third-largest U.S. carrier of air freight. DHL Worldwide Express, a unit of the German post office, would buy the business in cash at a premium to Airborne's current share price, Airborne said.
UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, said it will comply with a U.S. directive to hand over Iraqi assets frozen since the 1991 Gulf War. UBS Warburg, the Zurich-based bank's securities business, said it received an order last week to transfer funds -- payments from oil companies to Iraq frozen before Iraq could claim them -- to the U.S. Treasury. President Bush authorized the seizure of about $1.7 billion in Iraqi money and assets frozen at various banks for the past 12 years. The money is to be used to rebuild postwar Iraq.
SES Global, the world's largest satellite broadcaster, said 2002 profit fell 27 percent, to $217 million, because of costs related to the acquisition of General Electric's satellite unit. Sales at Betzdorf, Luxembourg-based SES, which runs Europe's Astra satellite network, rose 38 percent, to $1.43 billion, boosted by the 2001 purchase of GE American Communications for $4.3 billion.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the owner of the Sheraton and Westin chains, withdrew its earnings guidance for the first quarter and for 2003. The White Plains, N.Y.-based company said that it cannot assess the effects of war with Iraq and that its fuel costs have been higher than expected because of an unusually cold winter. Starwood follows companies including Walt Disney Co., Northwest Airlines and Carnival in saying war is reducing demand for travel.
Walgreen, the nation's largest pharmacy chain, said its second-quarter profit rose 14 percent, to $370.9 million. Sales in the three months ended Feb. 28 rose 12.8 percent, to $8.45 billion.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers