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Published Oct. 2, 2005

Chrysler to spin off Dollar Thrifty in IPO

Chrysler Corp. said Friday it will spin off Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc., the owner of Dollar Rent A Car Systems Inc. and Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, in an initial public offering valued at as much as $500-million. Chrysler will sell 20-million shares, and Dollar Thrifty will sell 2.5-million shares in the IPO. Chrysler didn't give an expected price range. It is applying to list the unit on the New York Stock Exchange.

STARWOOD UPS BID FOR ITT: Starwood Lodging Trust raised its offer for ITT Corp. to $85 a share and added more cash, hoping to sway investors ahead of next week's showdown with rival suitor Hilton Hotels Corp. Starwood will give ITT shareholders a choice of all stock or as much as $25.50 a share in cash, up from $15. The increased amount of cash is crucial because some investors favor Hilton's offer of $80 a share, of which $44 is cash. Starwood said it's trying to appeal to institutional holders who like its stock, which has nearly doubled in a year, and arbitragers who want cash.

SUPERMARKETS CONSOLIDATING: Fred Meyer Inc. said it will buy Quality Food Centers Inc. and Ralphs Grocery Co. for a combined $4.8-billion in stock and assumed debt to become the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the U.S. The Portland-based company valued the Quality Food purchase at $1.7-billion, including $400-million in debt, and Ralphs at $3.1-billion, with $2.4-billion in debt. The combined company will have about 800 stores in 14 states. The latest in a string of acquisitions will help Fred Meyer compete with Albertsons Inc. and Safeway Inc. by cutting costs and boosting profits.

MARLBORO ULTRA LIGHTS ARE COMING: Philip Morris Cos. said Friday it plans to go national with a low-tar version of its Marlboro cigarette, Marlboro Ultra Light, in January. The company said it has been test-marketing the cigarette for three years in Indiana, Oregon, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Washington. Light cigarettes, which the Federal Trade Commission defines as having between 7 and 15 milligrams of tar, are the largest category of cigarettes and account for about half of all sales.

GM CLOSING DETROIT PLANT: General Motors Corp. said Friday it will close its Detroit Assembly Plant next fall, two years ahead of schedule. The move will save money and allow GM to start truck chassis work in Flint, Mich., in early 1999 instead of 2001. Detroit Assembly makes chassis for commercial vans, motor homes and school buses. The shutdown is part of GM's plan to spend $500-million on its long-languishing operations in Flint.

TEXAS SUES MICROSOFT: The Texas attorney general sued Microsoft Corp. on Friday, charging that the software giant has tried to "chill" the state's investigation of its business practices. In a filing made in state district court, Attorney General Dan Morales contended that Microsoft "improperly binds" companies that license its software by requiring that they inform Microsoft "before providing information to state and federal antitrust investigators." Some people and organizations the state wants to interview have become "apprehensive about fully cooperating," the suit says. The suit follows a similar one filed Oct. 20 by the U.S. Justice Department.

Tampa Bay/State

MONTGOMERY WARD LIQUIDATES: Liquidation sales begin today at 47 Montgomery Ward & Co. stores around the country, including at Eastlake Square Mall in Tampa and an Auto Express at Central Plaza in St. Petersburg. The stores will be closed after liquidators from Gordon Brothers Partners Inc. sell off $150-million in inventory as part of Ward's Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

REGIONS FINANCIAL, KEY FLORIDA MERGING: Regions Financial Corp. and Key Florida Bancorp Inc. announced Friday that they have entered a non-binding letter of intent for a proposed merger of Key Florida Bancorp into Regions Financial. The transaction would be valued at about $38.5-million. The merger is expected to be completed in early 1998.



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