Scott Paper increases layoffsScott Paper Co. said...

BUSINESS DIGEST

August 04, 1994

Scott Paper increases layoffs

Scott Paper Co. said yesterday that it was sharply expanding its restructuring and earmarking another 2,200 workers for layoffs, setting a target of 10,500 cuts this year -- fully one-third of its work force, including 70 percent of its corporate headquarters staff in Philadelphia.

Analysts said newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Al Dunlap was making good on a promise to revamp the company by slashing staff, reducing capacity and selling off a glossy printing unit worth up to $2 billion. The company will also sharply curtail the number of its consumer products, from 400 to 100.

Scott Paper, the world's biggest tissue company, said the plan would save $400 million annually once completed. Its shares rose $1, to $61, in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

QVC's Diller presses for higher offer

On the eve of a QVC Inc. board meeting to consider a takeover offer from Comcast Corp. and Tele-Communications Inc., all sides were still negotiating furiously last night.

Barry Diller, the chairman of QVC, is seeking an offer that is higher than the $44 a share that Comcast and TCI have bid for 55 million shares of QVC. An executive close to him said Mr. Diller was seeking about $46 a share, and both sides appeared close to a deal late last night.

If no deal has been reached before this morning's board meeting, Mr. Diller is expected to ask the board to consider a stock buyback for as much as $1.2 billion in cash. He also is said to be considering a plan for a cash dividend.

With no bidding war to help push up the price, Mr. Diller has been seeking other means of sweetening the offer from Comcast and TCI, which are the largest shareholders of QVC, with a total stake of 35 percent in the company.

Merger talk boosts Conrail stock

Shares of railway freight system Conrail Inc. jumped yesterday on speculation that it might merge with Norfolk Southern Corp.

Conrail's stock rose $2.25, to close at $56.50, after Wall Street analysts said Norfolk Southern would likely pay about $64 a share, or $5.7 billion, were it to bid for Conrail.

Both Norfolk and Conrail declined comment on a Journal of Commerce report that they were negotiating a merger.

Visa to buy electronic-banking unit

Visa International said yesterday that it would buy the electronic-banking and bill-paying operation of U.S. Order Corp., so that Visa's member banks could offer services by personal computer and phone.

U.S. Order, based in Herndon, Va., sells telephones with small computer screens and keyboards that customers can use for shopping and information retrieval, as well as banking.

Visa will pay $15 million and make an additional payment based on the number of customers who buy the service over the next six years.

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