DaimlerChrysler Drops Mitsubishi
DaimlerChrysler ended its ill-fated involvement with Mitsubishi Motors as it agreed to sell its 12.4 percent stake in the Japanese automaker to Goldman Sachs for an undisclosed price. The German-American automaker once held 37 percent of Mitsubishi but has been reducing its stake as it concentrates more on its own Mercedes and Chrysler automotive groups. It expects to close the sale by the end of November.
Volkswagen Tallies Inquiry's Costs
Volkswagen said an investigation into claims of bribery and kickbacks would cost it about $5.8 million, and it named Audi executive Horst Neumann its personnel director.
A final report on the investigation was handed over to its board by KPMG International, which the automaker hired to conduct an internal investigation.
Other than the $5.8 million figure, the board released no further details of the report.
Prosecutors Speak Against Ebbers
Prosecutors said the evidence against former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers was "overwhelming" and urged a federal appeals court to uphold his fraud conviction and 25-year prison sentence. Assistant U.S. Attorney David B. Anders said that Ebbers clearly participated in an $11 billion accounting fraud that helped drive the company into bankruptcy. Ebbers's lawyers contend that other former WorldCom executives might have cleared him but did not want to testify because they had not been granted immunity.
Allied Defense Delays Report
Allied Defense Group said it will delay its third-quarter report, citing plans to restate results for the first and second quarters of this year due to hedge accounting. The Vienna company also reported a wider loss for the latest quarter and reduced its profit guidance because of contract delays. The international defense and security firm said it estimates a third-quarter loss of $4.3 million (74 cents a share), wider than its loss of $567,000 (10 cents) a year earlier. Revenue fell to $23.5 million, from $34.9 million last year. The company said it expects to file its completed report by about Nov. 14.
Sony BMG Drops New Process
Sony BMG Music Entertainment suspended use of an anti-piracy technology in its compact discs because it can leave computers vulnerable to hackers. The "XCP" technology prevents customers from making more than a few copies of the CD and prevents them from loading its songs onto Apple Computer's iPod portable music players. Sony BMG made its move a day after leading security companies disclosed that hackers were distributing viruses over the Internet that exploited the anti-piracy technology.
Baltimore Sun to Offer Buyouts
The Baltimore Sun will offer buyouts to 75 employees, the latest in a series of staff reductions at Baltimore's largest newspaper, Publisher Denise Palmer said. Twelve to 15 of the jobs are expected to be in the newsroom, said Linda Geeson, a Sun spokeswoman. "It's always a possibility" there will be layoffs if fewer than 75 employees accept the buyout, Geeson said. But she said there are no specific plans for layoffs. Michael Hill, a Sun reporter and unit chair with the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, said the departures would hurt the newspaper. "It's just bothersome that any place as profitable as the Sun and the Tribune corporation is resorting to reducing staff and threatening layoffs," he said.
P&G Plant Resumes Operation
Procter & Gamble's Folgers coffee plant in New Orleans has returned to full capacity, 11 weeks after being shut down by Hurricane Katrina. The plant, which produces more than half of Folgers coffee, has slowly resumed operations since the hurricane. P&G set up a trailer village to provide employee housing at the site, and it has provided other help including $5,000 no-interest loans to give employees cash in the hurricane's immediate aftermath.
Coffee supplies were disrupted, causing some shortages, and some Folgers was shipped in metal cans. Folgers said it has notified retailers that supplies will be back to normal by December.
P&G said more than 400 of the company's 554 employees in New Orleans are back at work.
MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS
Six Flags Tries to Fend Off Bid
Six Flags urged shareholders to reject an offer by Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to boost his stake and said it received other takeover offers. Bids have come from "a number of capable strategic and financial buyers," and a deal may be announced next month, Six Flags said in a statement. It did not name the bidders.
Cogent Communications, a District-based Internet service provider for businesses, lost $16.1 million (37 cents a share) in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $23 million ($28.58) a year earlier. Net revenue grew 55 percent, to $33.8 million. The difference in per-share earnings reflects the conversion this year of preferred stock to common stock and a secondary offering, increasing the weighted average of common shares to 43.9 million from 806,000.
Versar, a Springfield company that provides environmental cleanup and other services to government and industry, earned $116,000 (1 cent a share) in its fiscal first quarter ended Sept. 30, down from a profit of $407,000 (5 cents) a year earlier. Revenue fell 29 percent, to $13.5 million. Shares closed at $3.50.
Compiled from staff and news service reports.