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BUSINESS TODAY

AGENTS SUE ALLSTATE: The National Association of Professional Allstate Agents sued Allstate Insurance Co. in U.S. District Court in Tampa on behalf of Florida agents who claim the company illegally changed the terms of their contracts. Last year Allstate forced its agents to become independent contractors or lose their jobs. The association says Allstate then reneged on promises it used to induce agents to stay on. They say the company dramatically increased sales quotas, made it more difficult for them to sell their businesses and cut them out of commissions. Allstate officials said they had not seen the suit and declined to comment.

NORTHERN TRUST NAMES BAY AREA BOSS: Cary Putrino, president of Northern Trust of Pinellas County, will take over the rest of the bank's Tampa Bay area operation. The promotion to regional president was widely expected after Northern Trust's head of operations in Hillsborough County, Paul Dresselhaus, left this month to join Bank of America as president of its private bank for Florida. Putrino, who joined Northern Trust in 1990, will oversee the bank's branches in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Belleair Bluffs.

YAHOO, SBC FORM VENTURE: SBC Communications Inc. and Yahoo Inc. revealed a marketing alliance to provide high-speed Internet service and other Web-based products in the 13 states served by SBC. The service, to be known as SBC Yahoo, is scheduled to launch in mid-2002. The venture signals Yahoo's choice of digital subscriber line over cable modem as a Internet broadband solution. SBC, with 1.2-million customers, is the nation's largest DSL Internet provider. The partnership also may foretell the eventual demise of the Prodigy brand. This month SBC paid $465-million for all shares of Prodigy, an Internet dial-up service and Web portal with 3.6-million customers nationwide.

CHEVRONTEXACO CUTS UNDER WAY: ChevronTexaco Corp. has begun to lay off 7 percent of its work force, or about 4,000 employees, as the oil giant eliminates overlapping operations. The job cuts are described in the company's quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. ChevronTexaco hopes to reduce overhead by $1.2-billion annually.

KODAK CONTINUES TO RESTRUCTURE: Eastman Kodak Co. plans yet another restructuring in a bid to give individual business units more control over matters affecting revenue and profit. For the first time, the businesses will be responsible for managing a variety of activities previously shared across the company, including supply chain and inventory management, administrative spending, marketing and customer service. The realignment is at least the third since Daniel Carp took over as chief executive in January 2000. Shares of Kodak rose 82 cents to close at $27.28.

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