Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

July 16, 2005

IN THE REGION

Ripken Baseball hires Warschawski

Warschawski, a Baltimore public relations, marketing and branding firm, has been hired by Ripken Baseball to oversee national media-relations initiatives for the 2005 Cal Ripken World Series.

Baltimore-based Ripken Baseball is a sales and marketing company that represents the business and philanthropic efforts of former Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill Ripken. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The sixth annual Cal Ripken World Series, scheduled Aug. 12-15, will for the first time be held at Cal Ripken Sr.'s Yard, a youth-sized replica of Camden Yards that is under construction. Fifteen teams of 11- and 12-year-olds from around the world will play in the series.

Royal Ahold NV agrees to sell Deli XL

Royal Ahold NV, the Dutch owner of U.S. grocery chains Giant Food and Stop & Shop, agreed yesterday to sell its Deli XL food-distribution business to Bidvest Group Ltd. for 140 million euros ($170 million).

The Netherlands-based retailer expects to complete the transaction with Bidvest, which manufactures and distributes food in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, in the third quarter, it said yesterday.

Deli XL, the biggest distributor of food to corporate clients in the Netherlands and Belgium, is being sold as Ahold unwinds a global expansion to raise cash and regain investor confidence after accounting fraud.

Elsewhere

Procter & Gamble gets European OK

Procter & Gamble Co.'s proposed $57 billion takeover of Gillette, which would create a global consumer products giant, gained European Union antitrust approval yesterday.

Because the two companies overlap in the European market with battery toothbrushes, P&G agreed to sell its Spinbrush line, which it acquired five years ago. Spinbrush's sales totaled $150 million last year; sales of all P&G products totaled some $51 billion.

The last major step for the deal that would join such prominent P&G brands as Pampers and Tide with Gillette's line of razors is regulatory approval from the Federal Trade Commission. FTC spokesman Mitchell Katz declined to release details of the pending review.

Shareholders in both companies overwhelmingly approved the merger in votes tallied Tuesday, and P&G said it hopes to complete the acquisition by this fall.

Three more airlines raise walk-up fares

Three more airlines have raised the rates on their highest walk-up fares by $100 each way, following Delta Air Lines in the latest in a series of fare increases aimed at helping the struggling industry keep up with the record-high fuel costs.

Delta said Thursday it was raising the cost of tickets bought at the last minute, usually purchased by business travelers, by $100 to a maximum of $599 each way. It also raised its cap on first-class fares to $699 each way, from $599.

By yesterday, United Airlines, US Airways and Continental Airlines also had raised their fares. Airline specialists said the move is significant because it gives the airlines power to charge more for some tickets as they scramble to pay for record high fuel costs.

United Airlines gets approval on loans

A federal bankruptcy judge in Chicago approved United Airlines' request for an additional $310 million in loans yesterday as the carrier works on its plan to emerge from bankruptcy this fall.

United said the financing is needed to provide a "stable environment" as it works toward filing a reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court, which the company is expected to do early next month.

The approval from Judge Eugene Wedoff to amend total new debt accumulated by United as it goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy raises the amount to $1.3 billion. It also extends the deadline for repaying the loans by three months, to Dec. 30.

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

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