Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

October 25, 2002

In the Region

Circuit judge bars AT&T effort to limit member of PSC

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Thomas Waxter denied yesterday a request from AT&T Corp. to block a member of the Maryland Public Service Commission from hearing telecommunications matters.

AT&T argued that Commissioner Ronald A. Guns, a former state legislator, should be barred from phone cases because he once worked for its competitor, Verizon Communications Inc.

Next week, the commission will consider Verizon's request to add long-distance service to its other offerings in Maryland.

Wider application sought for Microsoft findings

Applying a U.S. appeals court's findings from the government's antitrust victory over Microsoft Corp. to Netscape Communications Corp.'s suit would make it easier for the AOL Time Warner Inc. unit to seek damages from the world's largest software company, a judge said yesterday.

"You are not going to have a hard case to prove" if Microsoft is barred from contesting the appeals court's findings, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz told a lawyer for Netscape.

Motz is presiding over pretrial hearings in Baltimore in antitrust suits against Microsoft by Netscape, Sun Microsystems Inc., two smaller competitors and individual consumers.

Netscape argued that Motz should apply the antitrust judgment obtained by the U.S. Justice Department and 18 states to its suit. Findings from the earlier dispute parallel claims that Microsoft crushed competition from Netscape's Web browser, said Netscape lawyer Jeffrey Rosen.

Elsewhere

Goldman Sachs eBay CEO, others sued over IPO shares

eBay Inc. has been sued by a shareholder who accuses the world's largest Internet auctioneer and four directors of improperly benefiting from initial public offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

eBay shareholder Rickey Broussard is suing Chief Executive Officer Margaret C. Whitman; Chairman and founder Pierre M. Omidyar, former executive Jeffrey Skoll, and board member Robert Kagle. The suit, filed yesterday in Delaware Chancery Court, also names Goldman Sachs, the biggest underwriter of U.S. initial share sales.

The House Financial Services Committee is investigating whether Goldman Sachs let executives buy shares of IPOs of technology companies that yielded instant profits. Goldman is accused of allocating the IPO shares in exchange for investment-banking business.

All Toyota vehicles to be hybrids by 2012

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's third-largest automaker, plans to use gasoline-electric hybrid engines in all vehicles by 2012 to increase fuel efficiency and reduce tailpipe emissions, an executive said.

The gasoline-electric system emits as much as 40 percent less carbon dioxide than traditional internal-combustion engines, said Masatami Takimoto, managing director for engine engineering, in an interview at a Detroit conference. Toyota was the first to sell a hybrid, with the Prius car in 1997.

Ben & Jerry's to fire 52 workers, a 6% reduction

Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream maker owned by Unilever NV, is firing 52 workers, about 6 percent of its work force, to lower expenses.

The maker of Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey ice cream will have about 815 employees after the cuts.

Ben & Jerry's said it will be able to compete more effectively with a smaller staff. The South Burlington, Vt.-based company said in May that it would move some work within Vermont, transferring that of a Springfield factory and a Bellows Falls distribution center to an expanded plant in St. Albans.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and The New York Times.

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