News Briefs

Sun Microsystems and Microsoft; junk bond mutual funds; NYSE; Accenture; HealthSouth; Belgacom; business airfares; Bally's Total Fitness.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. agreed to a broad settlement in which Microsoft will pay its longtime rival $1.6 billion to settle Sun’s private antitrust suit and to resolve patent claims. Computerworld reported that the companies will also begin negotiations for a patent cross-license agreement. Sun also announced that it will report a loss of $750 million to $810 million for the quarter ended in March and that it will lay off 3,300 workers, wrote The New York Times.
  • Investors yanked out $172.59 million from U.S. junk bond mutual funds in the week ended March 31, according to AMG Data Services. This was the third week of outflows since the train bombings in Madrid.
  • John Reed, interim chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, plans to continue in that role for another year, reported The former co-chairman of Citigroup Inc. assumed his current role last September after Richard Grasso left the NYSE amid a furor over a nearly $140 million retirement-pay package.
  • Joe Forehand, chairman and chief executive officer of Accenture, will relinquish his CEO post effective September 1, according to WebCPA. Forehand, who became CEO in November 1999, led the firm through its transition from Andersen Consulting to Accenture following its split from now-defunct Arthur Andersen and Andersen Worldwide in August 2000.
  • HealthSouth Corp. announced that Larry Striplin Jr. has voluntarily resigned from the company’s board of directors as part of a previously announced transition plan.
  • Brussels-based Belgacom named Qwest chief financial officer Oren George Shaffer as an independent member of its board.
  • The average business airfare in 2003 dropped to its lowest level in six years, according to American Express. The typical one-way business fare — which Amex defines as the lowest fully refundable economy fare, with a three-day advance purchase requirement — fell 5 percent from the prior year, to $545. However, companies continue to steer corporate travelers to nonrefundable leisure airfares, which remain significantly cheaper, and to nonrefundable business fares that bear additional requirements.
  • Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said that its rating on Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp. is so far not affected by Ernst & Young LLP’s resignation as Bally’s independent auditor. “Standard & Poor’s will closely monitor developments with regard to Bally’s selection of a new independent auditor and the audit transition process,” it added.

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