AT&T TO INCREASE FEE: AT&T Corp. will boost by 15 percent customer charges for contributions to a phone service fund after the Federal Communications Commission ordered an increase in fees paid by long-distance companies. Starting Monday, AT&T will raise the monthly Universal Connectivity Charge of state-to-state and international long-distance calls to 9.9 percent from 8.6 percent. Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine and critic of earlier AT&T fee increases, will ask the FCC to investigate whether the company is overcharging customers. "There's been a history of inflating the charges above legitimate costs, and I'm concerned that may be happening again," said Gene Kimmelman, co-director of Consumers Union's Washington office.
BREED OUT OF BANKRUPTCY: Breed Technologies Inc. of Lakeland says it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after 15 months. The auto parts manufacturer said its reorganization plan calls for canceling all outstanding stock, with Breed operating as a private corporation with new capital and ownership structures. The company said it would provide details in January. Breed filed for protection from creditors in September 1999, swimming in $1.6-billion of debt. Breed makes air bags, seat belts and steering wheels.
FEDEX RAISES RATES: FedEx Corp. announced a 4.9 percent increase in U.S. air express shipment rates effective Feb. 1. Rates for shipments abroad will increase an average of 2.9 percent. FedEx said last week it has implemented cost controls to combat historically high fuel prices, and the company warned that earnings will be hurt by a slowing economy.
CRUISE LINE DECLARES BANKRUPTCY: Commodore Holdings Ltd., owner of the Commodore Cruise Line, said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and canceled cruises after failing to negotiate a new debt-payment agreement with lenders. The Hollywood company canceled sailings of its Enchanted Capri cruise ship Sunday and its Enchanted Isle and Crown Dynasty ships Saturday. Passengers currently on board the ships will return to port, the company said.
JABIL TO JOIN S&P 500 INDEX: Jabil Circuit Inc. will be added to the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, replacing El Paso Energy Corp. Shares of St. Petersburg-based Jabil rose $1 to $23. El Paso will be added to the S&P 100 Index after it acquires Coastal Corp.
COKE GETS MILK: Coca-Cola said it plans to market milk-based products to children as part of a wider effort to stay ahead in the billion-dollar soft drink industry. Though Coke isn't revealing many details about "Project Mother," its new initiative to develop dairy-based products, the company has announced plans to test at least five milk drinks early next year. The company also is in the early stages of research and development with juice-based beverages and other income-generating initiatives, a spokesman said, including in-home water purification systems, kiosks that would allow customers to use the Internet and personalized packaging.