Ebbers Sentencing Set for Today

A federal judge denied a bid by former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers, left, for a new trial, paving the way for his sentencing today in the $11 billion fraud case. In her ruling, Judge Barbara Jones wrote that none of Ebbers's arguments warranted a new trial.

A Supreme Court ruling this year made the sentencing guidelines only advisory for federal judges, not mandatory, giving Jones greater flexibility in determining Ebbers's penalty. Ebbers has asked for a term "substantially below" life in prison, citing his poor health and a history of charitable works.

Jones has ruled that Ebbers will be allowed to present witnesses at the sentencing to testify to his character and his medical condition, plus an expert witness to discuss the amount of money lost in the WorldCom scandal.


Anti-Exxon Campaign Launched

A coalition of 12 environmental and liberal advocacy groups launched a public relations campaign against the country's largest oil company, Exxon Mobil, citing its behavior on environmental issues.

The groups, which include Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, called on people to boycott the company's gas stations, sell its stock and refuse to accept jobs at Exxon. The groups, which are making their case on a Web site, are especially upset that Exxon has lobbied against limits on emissions of gases linked to global warming and is pushing to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Exxon issued a rebuttal of the activists' claims and said it has taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is funding research designed to reduce emissions further.

Shell Settles U.S. Employees' Suit

Royal Dutch/Shell agreed to pay about $90 million to settle a class action brought by its U.S. employees after the multinational oil company overstated its 2003 year-end oil and gas reserves by 41 percent. Insurance will cover $25 million of the settlement, Shell said in a statement. The complaint was brought by employees enrolled in plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.


Former NYSE Seat Holder Sues

A former New York Stock Exchange seat holder accused chief executive John A. Thain of lying outright to her husband on Feb. 15 about the exchange's prospects for going public -- a statement she said cost her at least $1 million. Allison Wey said in her lawsuit that she sold her seat on March 21 for $1.54 million on that basis, only to see other seats sell for as much as $2.6 million after the NYSE announced on April 20 that it would merge with Archipelago Holdings to create a publicly traded company.


American Express, N.H. Settle

New Hampshire regulators and American Express Financial Advisors reached a $7.4 million settlement over allegations that the company illegally rewarded its financial advisers who steered clients toward underperforming, in-house mutual funds.

The bureau alleged that in one sales contest, American Express Financial Advisors offered its advisers who sold the most company funds a free, one-year lease on a Mercedes-Benz.


Acceleration on Some Fords Probed

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the acceleration of some Ford Motor vehicles. One inquiry involves reports that the engine throttle in 2002 Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers became stuck in the open position, causing unwanted acceleration. The other involves whether the carpeting interfered with the accelerator pedal in the 2003 Mustang, Mustang convertible and Mustang GT, and the 2004 Mustang.

Mergers & Acquisitions

P&G-Gillette Deal Advances

Shareholders of both companies approved Procter & Gamble's $57 billion acquisition of Gillette, which will help boost sales in developing markets such as China and India. U.S. and European antitrust officials must approve the deal, which also is being scrutinized by the top securities regulator in Massachusetts, where Gillette is based. P&G officials said they expect the purchase to close by the end of the year.


Hudson United to Be Acquired

Financial services company TD Banknorth said it agreed to acquire Hudson United Bancorp in a $1.9 billion deal that will extend its business into New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The acquisition will create a regional financial services company with 590 branches, 751 ATMs and more than $26 billion in deposits across eight northeastern states.

PepsiCo said second-quarter profit rose 13 percent, to $1.19 billion, from $1.06 billion in the comparable period a year ago, on surging demand in Europe and Asia for drinks such as Gatorade and its Quaker food line in the United States. Sales in the quarter ended June 11 increased 8.9 percent, to $7.7 billion.

Ameritrade reported a nearly 20 percent increase in its fiscal third-quarter profit, to $74.7 million. The online brokerage's revenue for the three months ended June 30 climbed 72 percent, to $234.4 million.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.