EU OFFICIALS RAID BOTTLER: Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.'s offices in London and Brussels were raided by the European Commission to determine if the company's distribution practices broke antitrust rules. PepsiCo Inc., maker of Pepsi-Cola, filed a complaint against the company. Coca-Cola Enterprises said it is cooperating with authorities and is "confident" it is in compliance with all laws and regulations. Coca-Cola Co. is facing EU scrutiny for possibly giving illegal incentives to German, Austrian and Danish supermarkets and other retailers to persuade them to stock fewer rival products, the EU said.
TIME WARNER, DISNEY REACH TENTATIVE AGREEMENT: Time Warner Inc. and the Walt Disney Co. have reached a tentative deal to carry the ABC network over Time Warner's cable lines, easing tensions in a corporate feud that had resulted in 3.5-million homes being unplugged from ABC earlier this month. Neither company would provide details of the agreement, and a spokesman for Time Warner Cable emphasized that the agreement was not yet final. A Disney official said a formal agreement could be announced in the next few days.
AB VOLVO PLANS BUYBACK: AB Volvo said it will buy back up to 10 percent of its stock by offering shareholders the opportunity to sell every 10th share to Volvo for cash. Roughly $1.3-billion will be transferred if the offer is fully accepted.
METLIFE TO DEVELOP BANKING SERVICES UNIT: MetLife Inc. said it will develop a new unit to offer banking services for customers. The life insurer, which completed its initial public offering last month, said the unit will look for ways to offer savings and checking accounts, individual retirement accounts and online bill payment. The goal is to make these banking features available by early 2001. A MetLife spokesman said the company hasn't decided what form the new banking division would take, such as whether it would be a brick and mortar bank or an Internet bank.
AGENTS CONFRONT ALLSTATE: Executives of Allstate Corp., confronted by unhappy agents at the company's annual meeting, insisted the insurer is on the right path to increased market share and improved profitability. Allstate has given 6,000 of its 15,000 agents until May 31 to decide whether to convert to contractor status or to leave the company with a buyout package. Some employee agents are complaining they are being shortchanged by the company, which no longer will pay health insurance or Social Security benefits. Allstate officials estimate 15 percent of its insurance agents may leave.
SHELLS CEO STEPS DOWN: The president and chief executive of the Tampa-based Shells Seafood Restaurants chain is stepping down. The company said William Hattaway is leaving for personal reasons but will remain on the company's board of directors and serve as a consultant on an interim basis. A successor has not been selected. Hattaway, a veteran of rival Red Lobster, joined Shells in 1992, pared the chain down to 11 restaurants and then rebuilt it. Shells now manages and operates 49 seafood restaurants in Florida and the Midwest, though it has struggled to gain a foothold there.
Earnings Venator Group Inc.
Strong sales at its Footlocker athletic stores and Northern Group clothing shops helped push the New York-based retailer's performance in the quarter ended April 29. Venator's per-share earnings topped analysts' estimates once adjusted for onetime gains and losses.
1stQtr Year Ago
Revenue $1.07-bil $947-mil
Net Income $15-mil -$3-mil
Per Share 11 cents -8 cents