Business Digest


September 22, 2004

In the Region

Adelphia to sell holdings at auction in 7 regional groups

Adelphia Communications Corp.'s cable systems in Maryland will be sold at auction along with the bankrupt company's other holdings, which it said yesterday have been divided into seven regional groups.

Dividing the company's cable systems into seven clusters may maximize bids by potential buyers, Adelphia Chief Executive Bill Schleyer said. He had said in April that the company would sell its assets to raise money to repay creditors who are owed more than $18 billion.

The clusters are Virginia/Maryland/Colorado Springs/Kentucky; Northern New England/Eastern New York; Cleveland/Greater Ohio Valley; Florida/Southeast; California/Western; Pennsylvania; and Western New York & Connecticut.

Analysts and creditors have estimated the company's value at between $17 billion and $23 billion. Final bids are expected by year's end, Adelphia said.


Disney board sees Eisner replacement hired by June

The Walt Disney Co. said yesterday that it expects to hire a new chief executive by next June after a search that will include both inside and outside candidates to replace Michael Eisner, who is retiring in 2006.

The board said Disney will hire an executive search firm and consider President Robert Iger as a candidate.

The board, which has been meeting for two days, said it has full confidence in Eisner and expects him to assist in the transition and remain with the company until 2006.

The statement came on the 20th anniversary of Eisner's arrival at Disney.

Ex-Computer Associates counsel to enter guilty plea

Steven Woghin, the former general counsel of Computer Associates, will plead guilty today in Brooklyn to federal criminal charges stemming from a two-year investigation into the company's accounting practices, people close to the case said yesterday.

The plea is expected to clear the way for prosecutors to move against Sanjay Kumar, the company's former chief executive, and Stephen Richards, its former head of sales, who have been the focus of the federal investigation. Kumar and Richards are expected to be indicted shortly, lawyers involved in the case said yesterday.

The company and prosecutors have also reached a deal under which Computer Associates will temporarily accept an outside monitor and pay restitution to shareholders in return for the resolution of the investigation.

In pleading, Woghin would join several other former Computer Associates executives who have pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice or securities fraud and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to avoid lengthy prison terms.

MCI retains advisers but fails to discuss role

MCI Inc. Chief Executive Officer Michael Capellas said the company has retained advisers and declined to elaborate on what role they may play.

"We have a set of advisers and if that is a surprise to anybody in this room, and they don't know who these folks are, I would be shocked," Capellas said at a conference in San Francisco sponsored by Banc of America Securities.

Capellas made the remark in response to a question from an attendee about the prospect of a sale of the company.

DaimlerChrysler expects to create 4,000 jobs

DaimlerChrysler said yesterday that strong demand should create some 4,000 new jobs in its commercial vehicles division by the end of the year - including 3,000 jobs in Portland, Ore.

The division projects adding 3,000 jobs at its Freightliner truck unit, based in Portland, and another 1,000 worldwide to increase the division's total work force to 110,000, said division head Eckhard Cordes, in Hanover, Germany. Most of the jobs have already been added.

Division sales in the first half of this year totaled 310,700 units, an increase of some 34 percent over the year-earlier period. Revenue climbed 26 percent to 15.6 billion euros($19 billion), and operating profit soared over the same period by 174 percent to 736 million euros ($896 million), the company said.

Hershey Foods workers voting on pact concessions

Nearly 2,700 unionized Hershey Foods Corp. workers began voting yesterday on a proposed contract extension that would increase the cost of health care benefits and reduce wages for employees with less seniority.

A union official for Chocolate Workers Local 464 said the concessions are necessary to keep the company from taking the jobs elsewhere. Hershey said it has tentatively approved investing more than $30 million in its Hershey, Pa., plant, but final approval of the new "multi-line operation" hinges partly on the union's accepting the contract extension.

The proposal to extend the Local 464 contract through 2008 would increase employees' health care contributions from 6 percent to 12 percent, beginning in January 2006, and reduce wages by $4 an hour for nearly 260 employees hired after January 2000 - including 220 who are currently laid off but could resume working if production demands warrant. New employees would be paid at the lower rate.

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