The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is making it easier for employees of corporations and accounting firms to report tips and complaints. An online filing system at www.pcaobus.org and a toll-free phone line (800-741-3158) are meant to be easy to use and to enhance public awareness, a board director said. Information may be provided anonymously.
Google Governance Gets Low Rating
Google got the lowest corporate governance rating of any company in Standard & Poor's 500-stock index from Institutional Shareholder Services, 0.2 out of a possible 100 points, for issuing dual-class stock, lacking corporate governance guidelines and because fewer than two-thirds of its directors are independent. Google sold about $1.9 billion worth of shares last week as it became a public company.
Qwest Communications International and other regional telephone companies asked a federal court late yesterday to throw out a set of temporary telephone regulations issued Friday. The Federal Communications Commission rules freeze for six months the rates the regional companies can charge competitors. The companies argued that the FCC ruling violates previous court rulings and that they should be allowed to raise rates immediately.
Adelphia Communications said the Rigas family owes the company it founded more than $3.2 billion in appropriated funds. Court papers filed by an Adelphia attorney said John J. Rigas, his sons and the private companies they started are responsible for repaying loans they took from the cable provider.
OPEC raised its estimate of its total recoverable crude oil by almost 10 billion barrels and said it is trying to standardize member countries' data to improve forecasts. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' 11 members had 891.1 billion barrels of proven reserves at the end of last year, up 1 percent from 2002, OPEC's data services chief said.
Cisco Systems will buy privately held P-Cube for $200 million in cash and options. P-Cube, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., makes hardware and software that helps online service providers manage how they deliver games, video and phone calling. Cisco expects to close the purchase by Oct. 31.
AT&T said electronics retailer Best Buy will sell its CallVantage Internet-based telephone service. AT&T wants to boost sales of CallVantage, which uses conventional telephones to send calls over the Internet, to offset a revenue decline in its local and long-distance calling plans. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Kmart said it will sell 18 stores to Home Depot for $271 million. Initially, Kmart said it would sell up to 24 stores to Home Depot, but it revised the number to a minimum of 13 and a maximum of 19. The company received $54.6 million from the transaction last quarter and expects to receive the rest by the end of its fourth quarter. The company also has announced plans to sell as many as 54 of its stores to Sears for as much as $621 million.
Southwest Airlines plans to cut 88 flights in October and shift planes to more profitable routes, mostly in and out of Philadelphia. The low-cost carrier will reduce round-trip flights between Kansas City and Chicago, Dallas and Tulsa, Houston and New Orleans, and on other routes.
Toyota raised U.S. prices for the Prius, its gasoline-electric hybrid car, by three times as much as increases it announced for four other models. The 2005 Prius that will be sold starting Sept. 14 will have a $20,875 base price, up $580, or 2.9 percent, from the current model's price. Prius sales more than doubled through July as buyers faced with higher gas prices sought more fuel-efficient vehicles.
T-bill rates rose. The Treasury Department sold $19 billion of three-month bills at a 1.515 percent discount rate, up from 1.470 percent last week, and $17 billion of six-month bills at a 1.750 percent rate, up from 1.725 percent. The actual return to investors was 1.541 percent for three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,961.30, and 1.791 percent for a six-month bill selling for $9,911.50.
PJM Interconnection, the electricity network for the mid-Atlantic states, will introduce wholesale power prices that reflect power plant location and technology starting in 2005. The new pricing is designed to promote power plant investments in areas that need new generation most as well as in units that can operate flexibly, said Andrew L. Ott, PJM's vice president of market services.
The Justice Department does not expect a delay in completing its review of Cingular Wireless's planned $41 billion purchase of AT&T Wireless Services, the head of the agency's antitrust division said. But R. Hewitt Pate would not say when the review would be completed. Cingular has said it plans to complete the merger by the end of the year. Also, Cingular said it agreed to buy $100 million of phone services from AT&T to help resolve a branding dispute related to the purchase. Cingular, which has said it plans to use the Cingular name for the combined company and services, will retain the AT&T Wireless name for six months after the purchase.
Kenneth K. Livesay, assistant comptroller at HealthSouth from 1989 to 1999, was barred by the Securities and Exchange Commission from serving as an accountant at a public company. Livesay has been accused of ordering HealthSouth employees to record fictitious assets.
The Saturn VUE passed the government's rollover test with a score similar to other sport-utility vehicles. General Motors had redesigned the VUE's rear suspension after a wheel collapsed beneath the vehicle in two previous tests.
Kirk Kerkorian must face a DaimlerChrysler shareholder's claims that the billionaire investor wrongfully sold shares in the carmaker after obtaining insider information, a judge ruled while dismissing some of the suit's other claims.
Luis Padilla, executive vice president of merchandising for Target's Marshall Field's chain, was named first president of merchandising for Sears, Roebuck. Target sold Marshall Field's in July.
ARM Holdings of England, whose chip designs are used in Apple's iPod digital music players, agreed to buy Artisan Components for about $913 million in cash and stock. ARM chief executive Warren East told analysts that he plans to sell more ARM products to Artisan's 2,000 customers while offering the U.S. company's chip designs to ARM's existing clients.
Air Canada received approval from an Ontario court for a restructuring plan aimed at allowing the airline to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of September with a smaller workforce and fleet, more international routes and plans to spin off some of its subsidiaries. Air Canada's creditors have already approved the plan.
Volkswagen said there is no room for wage increases as it prepares for pay talks with Germany's largest industrial union, and it announced proposals to trim labor costs by cutting paid breaks and increasing flexible working time. In return, VW's personnel chief said, the company would not cut its 176,500-strong German workforce for the two-year duration of the proposed agreement.
Toys R Us earned a profit in the second quarter, buoyed by a reversal of $200 million in income tax reserves, though sales fell 3.9 percent, to $2.02 billion, from $2.1 billion in the same period last year. Profit was $61 million, compared with a loss of $11 million in last year's second quarter. The earnings report is the company's first since its Aug. 11 announcement that it may sell its toy business in the face of fierce competition from discounters.
World Wrestling Entertainment said first-quarter profit more than doubled as its home video business increased and more pay-per-view events fueled revenue growth. The Stamford, Conn., company earned $7.6 million in the quarter ended July 31, compared with $2.6 million in the same period a year ago. Revenue rose to $81.6 million from $74.7 million.
El Paso Corp. said its third-quarter results will reflect a $2.67 billion write-down in oil and gas property values and a $1 billion write-down in shareholder equity reflecting accounting revisions for natural gas hedges.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.