News Briefs

Oracle; Richard Grasso; Hollinger; Martha Stewart; Home Depot; Lockheed Martin; BearingPoint; Jack Grubman; Hilton Hotels; Stillwater Mining.

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  • The U.S. Justice Department and seven state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to block Oracle Corp.’s hostile takeover bid for PeopleSoft Corp. “We believe that the government’s case is without basis in fact or in law, and we look forward to proving this in court,” said Oracle spokesman Jim Finn, according to press reports.
  • Richard Grasso, the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, has refused to return any portion of the compensation package that led to his ouster, according to reports. In a letter to interim NYSE chairman John Reed, Grasso lawyer Brendan Sullivan maintained that his client will still seek $50 million in compensation that he hasn’t received, said Reuters.
  • Conrad Black lost a court battle with his board of directors and must abandon his deal to sell Hollinger International Inc. to tycoons David and Frederick Barclay, according to the Associated Press. Black has agreed to help sell Hollinger, whose assets include The Daily Telegraph of London, the Chicago Sun-Times and The Jerusalem Post, through a process already under way with the Lazard LLC investment bank.
  • The judge in the Martha Stewart trial threw out the most serious charge, securities fraud, which could have landed Stewart in prison for 10 years. U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said that prosecutors had failed to present sufficient evidence to allow the jury to decide the matter. Stewart still faces charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements.
  • Home Depot Inc. declared its regular quarterly cash dividend of 7 cents per share and announced it would increase its authorized share repurchase program by $1 billion, to a total of $5 billion. In the past two years, the company has repurchased about $3.6 billion of its outstanding stock. The company added that over a three-year period, the share repurchase program coupled with dividends paid has returned roughly 46 percent of cumulative earnings to shareholders.
  • Lockheed Martin Corp. announced that its board authorized the purchase of up to an additional 20 million shares under its existing share repurchase program. The defense contractor said it repurchased 10.7 million shares of its common stock for $482 million in 2003 and 1 million shares for $50 million in 2002.
  • BearingPoint Inc., a technology services consulting company spun off from accounting firm KPMG LLP, announced that it will take a goodwill impairment charge of $120 million.
  • Jack Grubman has been hired as a strategic consultant by Distinctive Devices Inc., a software and hardware developer based in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The former Salomon Smith Barney telecom analyst resigned amid questions about his motivations for recommending shares of WorldCom Inc.
  • Hilton Hotels Corp. announced that chairman and president Barron Hilton will share the chairmanship with chief executive officer Stephen Bollenbach, a non-Hilton family member, and relinquish his role as president to chief financial officer Matthew Hart. Bollenbach will continue to serve as CEO; Hart will be succeeded as CFO by Robert La Forgia.
  • Stillwater Mining Co. named Gregory Wing as chief financial officer. Previously he was the CFO of Black Beauty Coal Co.

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