Business Digest

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 06, 2007

Nation: Airlines

Delta reorganization extension sought

Delta Air Lines Inc., which is operating under bankruptcy protection, asked for court permission yesterday to delay the deadline by which the company has to exclusively file its reorganization plan and to solicit acceptance of that plan. The airline said the extension - its fourth such request - from April 16 to June 1 is necessary because a confirmation hearing on its Chapter 11 plan is scheduled for April 25, after the current deadline. Delta is seeking to prevent competing plans from being filed until after it has a chance to finish soliciting votes on its plan, which calls for the airline to emerge from bankruptcy this spring as a stand-alone carrier. Delta, which has projected it will be worth $9.4 billion to $12 billion after it exits bankruptcy, said its request for the extension has the support of its official committee of unsecured creditors.

Personnel

Minn. publisher changes papers

Par Ridder, the former publisher of the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press and member of a newspaper family with ties to that city that go back 80 years, moved across the river yesterday to lead the Minneapolis Star Tribune as publisher and CEO. Ridder, 38, replaces J. Keith Moyer, who recently resigned after almost six years as Star Tribune publisher. Meanwhile Media News Group, the company that operates the Pioneer Press, named Frederick B. Mott Jr. interim publisher to replace Ridder. Ridder's arrival in Minneapolis, announced to Star Tribune staff yesterday in a company meeting, came on the day that Avista Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, took control of the paper from its former owner, the McClatchy Co.

Microsoft official set to retire

Microsoft Corp. said Vice President Blake Irving, who led its Internet services technology operations amid a fight with Google Inc., plans to retire. Irving, a 47-year-old engineering vice president who has been with the company for almost 15 years, will stay on for a few months in the transition, Adam Sohn, a director in the online services group, said yesterday.

Automakers

DaimlerChrysler making presentations

DaimlerChrysler AG officials will begin giving presentations to potential buyers interested in the Chrysler Group this week at the U.S. unit's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters, the Detroit Free Press reported last night. Officials from private equity firms Blackstone Group and Cerberus Capital Management are among those expected to hear what the company has to say and tour Chrysler facilities, said a person familiar with the plans. Word of the coming presentations came as DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated yesterday that the German parent might also sell the profitable Chrysler Financial unit if the German company decides to sell or spin off the Chrysler Group. Responding to a question from an industry analyst at the Merrill Lynch Global Automotive Conference in Geneva, Zetsche said company officials "have the option to do the same with the financial arm, or not."

World: Technology

Semiconductor sales rise 9.2% in Jan.

Worldwide semiconductor sales rose 9.2 percent in January, boosted by better-than-expected cell phone shipments and strong sales of personal computers, digital cameras and music players, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. Sales for the month showed a seasonal 1.2 percent decline from December.

Acquisitions

Blackstone to buy Tussauds

The Blackstone Group agreed yesterday to buy the Tussauds Group, owner of the Madame Tussauds wax museums, for 1 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) in cash. The transaction will make Blackstone, the American private equity firm, owner of the second-biggest visitor-attraction company, behind the Walt Disney Co., the firm said. Blackstone plans to combine Tussauds with other tourist-attraction brands in its Merlin Entertainments Group, including the Legoland entertainment parks and Gardaland, Italy's biggest theme park. The group - whose attractions also include the London Eye, a Ferris wheel that is among Britain's most popular paid tourist sites - drew more than 30 million visitors to its 50 locations last year.

Investing

Research In Motion to restate results

Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry e-mail phone, said yesterday that it will restate its results to cut earnings by about $250 million and said James L. Balsillie would give up his post as chairman after a review of its stock-options grants. Research in Motion said it didn't find intentional misconduct by its executives. But the restatements, which aren't yet complete, will cover more than three years of results dating back to 2004. The company forecast in January that restatements would cut past earnings by more than $45 million.

This column was compiled from dispatches by the Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, New York Times and Bloomberg News.

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