Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shareholders Friday approved the appointment of a DaimlerChrysler AG executive to its No. 2 post and to a seat on its board. The appointment marks the latest step to rebuild consumer confidence shaken by an auto defects coverup at the Japanese auto maker.”We know we can manage this turnaround,” Rolf Eckrodt, who also become chief operating officer at Mitsubishi, told the 279 shareholders gathered Friday at a Tokyo hall. “We will leave no stone unturned.”Mr. Eckrodt’s board membership was accepted by the shareholders without objection in just 17 minutes. He was previously president of DaimlerChrysler’s rail-systems subsidiary Adtranz. (WSJ 1/19/01)
DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) is in advanced talks with First Autoworks, China’s leading state-owned vehicle company, with the aim of setting up a 50-50 joint venture in trucks and buses, The Financial Times reported on its Web site Monday.
The joint venture would focus on medium and heavy trucks and buses, The Financial Times said in the report, which cited an unnamed industry expert at the Brussels Commercial vehicle show.
DaimlerChrysler and First Autoworks may sign a letter of intent within a few weeks, although talks have been delayed by First Autoworks’ insistence on using more of its components than originally envisioned by DaimlerChrysler, The Financial Times reported. (DJ 1/22/01)
Enron Corp., a major energy-trading concern, is considering making an offer to supply California’s beleaguered utilities with at least some of the power they need, at fixed prices.
Meanwhile, Houston-based Enron reported that its earnings, excluding nonrecurring items, jumped 34% in the fourth quarter, helped by big boosts in natural-gas and electricity-trading volumes. Enron already supplies power, at a price of $55 a megawatt hour, to United Illuminating Co., a utility unit of UIL Holdings Corp. in New Haven, Conn., “and we would be the natural person to do something similar in California,” though the price likely would be higher, said Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s president and chief executive-elect. (WSJ 1/23/00)
U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Celeste warned Monday that foreign investment in India would falter because of political pressures that threatened to derail the $3 billion Enron Corp. (ENE) power project. “It regrettably feeds the concern among American and other foreign investors that India remains a less-than-reliable destination for their investment dollars,” Celeste told an audience of business leaders, politicians and nongovernment agencies in Bombay, India’s financial hub. India’s largest-ever foreign investment has been in trouble since December after the government of Maharashtra state, in which Bombay is situated, said it would review a power-purchase agreement with U.S. energy giant Enron Corp. Maharashtra considers the power rates being charged are exorbitant. (DJ 1/22/01)
Ford Motor Co.’s (F) vice president of environmental and safety engineering Helen O. Petrauskas will retire later this year after 30 years at Ford, holding her current poition since 1983.(DJ 1/18/01)
Susan M. Cischke, senior vice president for regulatory affairs at DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler unit, is leaving for Ford Motor Co., becoming the latest top executive to flee the beleaguered Chrysler. Ms. Cischke, 46 years old, will become vice president for environmental and safety engineering at Ford, according to people familiar with the move. Helen O. Petrauskas, 56, who currently holds that position at Ford, will retire. At Chrysler, which she joined in 1976, Ms. Cischke oversaw the company’s compliance with safety and environmental regulations. She also oversaw the development of Chrysler’s passenger cars. (WSJ 1/19/01)
Adam Opel AG’s (G.ADO) Chairman Robert Hendry Friday denied General Motors Corp. (GM) was considering spinning off or selling its troubled German unit.He was responding to an article which appeared in German newspaper “Die Welt” Friday.”The focusing of responsibilities for the brand in Germany and the development of advanced technologies, such as the fuel cell, are proof of the important role Adam Opel plays and underlines the confidence General Motors has in the future of its German subsidiary,” Hendry said in a statement.GM Europe President Michael Burns added that speculation GM would want to spin off or sell Opel is totally unfounded and incorrect. “Opel is the very heart of our European business” he said. (DJ 1/19/01)
Walt Disney Co.’s newest theme park in Anaheim, Calif. isn’t even open yet and already it’s faced with some unwanted gate crashers: a slowing economy, high gas prices and a full-blown power crisis in California.
The new park, called Disney’s California Adventure, is set to open Feb. 8 adjacent to the company’s original Disneyland park. Its theme is the quintessential California vacation, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the wine country and the beach. The park is part of a broader expansion in Anaheim that also includes a recently opened “Downtown Disney” retail and entertainment district and a new high-end hotel, the Grand Californian.
The $1.4 billion complex is the first of several ambitious moves meant to buttress the company’s theme-park empire in coming years, with second Disney parks planned in Tokyo (later this year) and Paris (2002) and a park in Hong Kong slated for 2005. (WSJ 1/22/01)
Drexler Technology Corp. (DRXR) and Sony Corp. (SNE) have resolved their pending patent-infringement litigations in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, in which Drexler had asserted that certain of its patents were infringed by Sony and users of Sony’s SDDS digital sound system for motion pictures.In a press release, the terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.As reported, Drexler in 1998 alleged that Sony and other parties were illegally using Drexler’s patented “micro-chessboard” digital data format to encode Sony dynamic digital sound (SDDS) onto more than 300 movies. Drexler was seeking damages in the form of a percentage of the revenues from these films. (DJ 1/24/01)
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc., a unit of Sony Corp. (SNE), acquired Red Zone Interactive Inc., a software development company, and also acquired Naughty Dog Inc., an independent game development house.Financial terms weren’t available for either acquisition.
In a press release Monday, Sony said Red Zone Interactive will become a unit of its first party product development operation.Red Zone Interactive will continue to develop and expand its sports catalog exclusively on the PS one console and PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system and does not plan to move its development facilities from San Diego or make staffing changes. Red Zone’s President, Chris Whaley, will report directly to Shuhei Yoshida, vice president, product development, Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. Naughty Dog’s 30-person team will also become a Sony unit and will operate under the Naughty Dog brand name to create content exclusively for PlayStation 2. (DJ 1/22/01)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (GS) Japanese unit Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd. said Monday it has launched the first nighttime online share trading service in Japan.After the Japanese stock market is closed, the brokerage itself counters orders placed between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in its “Moon Trade” service.The service initially allows retail investors to trade in 25 issues, but the number of issues able to be traded will be increased to up to 300 and trading hours extended to 11:30 p.m. within two months. (DJ 1/22/01)
Lehman Brothers (LEH) Thursday named John Albright as head of the global convertibles group. In a press release, the investment bank said Albright was previously head of convertibles at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. (DJ 1/18/01)
John Mack, president of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., is leaving the firm, accordin
g to a people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mack is resigning after a long-running dispute with Philip Purcell, the firm’s chief executive, according to these people. The dispute allegedly began after Mr. Mack help merge his firm, Morgan Stanley, with Mr. Purcell’s Dean Witter in 1997. (WSJ 1/24/01)
A woman who says she was the first female trader on Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co.’s (MWD) institutional equities desk filed a lawsuit claiming the securities firm demoted her after she returned from a three-month maternity leave. Amy J. Buckley, who began working for Morgan Stanley in 1987 and eventually was promoted to vice president, claims the firm substantially reduced her annual bonus and reassigned her to a position that generated lower commissions when she returned in September 1998 from maternity leave. The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages. (DJ 1/23/01)
Brazil’s hygiene and cleaning products maker Bombril SA (E.BBL), controlled by Italy’s Cirio Spa (I.CIF), said Wednesday it signed a partnership agreement with Clorox Co. (CLX) of the U.S. The Brazilian company also said Clorox agreed to buy 50% of its detergents division for $200 million. This division will be made a separate company after Bombril completes its planned restructuring. The new unit will be called Detergentes Bombril SA.Bombril said the pact with Clorox is subject to “a number of conditions,” among which the delisting of the Brazilian firm. (DJ 1/24/01)
Gap Inc. (GPS) named John M. Lillie to the newly created position of vice chairman.
In a press release Tuesday, the company said Lillie, 62 years old, has been a director since 1992 and a consultant to the company since November. (DJ 1/23/01)
Nike Inc., the Oregon-based shoe and sports apparel giant, says it is investigating reports of labor unrest and violence in which strikers allegedly were beaten at a Korean-owned sweatshirt factory near Mexico’s central Puebla state. Puebla is about 110 kilometers southeast of Mexico City. Nike said it has been a major customer of the Kukdong factory, but currently has no orders placed there. The factory makes apparel for several universities. (WSJ 1/19/01)
PepsiCo Inc. said it has no plans to pull its Pepsi One commercial that has come under scrutiny by the National Football League for alleged trademark infringement. Instead, the Purchase, N.Y., soda maker has made changes to the ad, which the NFL charges uses the trademarks and likeness of the Chicago Bears football team without its consent. A disclaimer that the Pepsi One diet drink isn’t supported or endorsed by the NFL or the Chicago Bears has been added to the spot. And a sign on the double doors that lead to a locker room in the ad now reads “Utah Bears Locker Room,” instead of just “Bears Locker Room,” as the original ad showed. (WSJ 1/24/01)
Knowing how hard it is for employees at large corporations to work together, Procter & Gamble Co. is investing some seed money and several managers to form an independent venture that develops computer programs to manage and speed how employees share information. P&G is joining with Magnifi Inc., a closely held marketing-services firm with technology assets, to form a still-unnamed company, internally called “Project Enterprise Marketing Management” or “Project m.” P&G hopes the system will cut the amount of time it takes to develop and market products. (WSJ 1/23/01)
Macromedia Inc.’s (MACR) proposed merger with Allaire Corp. (ALLR) has a $10.35 million breakup fee, according to a Form 8-K filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal may be terminatd by either company if it’s not completed by Sept. 30. As reported, Macromedia and Allaire signed a definitive merger agreement valued at about $360 million on a fully diluted basis. Macromedia will exchange 0.2 of its common shares and $3 cash for each Allaire share. The purchase combination transaction, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions, is expected to close by the second quarter. (DJ 1/23/01)
Dell Computer Corp. (DELL) and Unisys Corp. (UIS) completed a global agreement to market and sell each other’s computer hardware and servers. In a press release Wednesday, Unisys said the expanded relationship between the companies is worth about $1 billion in revenue to both companies over three years. The alliance includes original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, agreements under which each company will rebrand and sell specific Intel Corp. (INTC)-based servers manufactured by the other company. The arrangement introduces sales of Dell notebook computer sourcing to Unisys customers and expands Unisys service offerings to Dell customers. (DJ 1/24/01)