STOCK OPTIONS AS EXPENSES: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two biggest buyers of U.S. home mortgages, have decided to treat stock options as an expense to make their income statements more clear and accurate. Options granted after Dec. 31, 2001, are being accounted for as a compensation cost, Freddie Mac said in a statement. In the second quarter, that expense was less than $4-million. Fannie Mae, the No. 1 mortgage buyer, will begin expensing in the next grant cycle, pending approval by its board of directors. Investors say omitting stock options from income statements allows companies to inflate profits by understating expenses and encourages executives to use improper accounting to boost the value of their options. Coca-Cola Co., Washington Post Co., Bank One Corp., Wachovia Corp. and Dole Food Co. have all said this month they will begin expensing options.
PENTAGON SHIFTS FREQUENCIES: The Pentagon has agreed to shift some military communications to other frequencies, freeing up space in the airwaves for advanced mobile phones and other wireless gadgets, the Bush administration announced Tuesday. The plan is a victory for telecommunications companies that want a bigger piece of the airwaves to offer enhanced services such as streaming video and high-speed internet access to phones, handheld computers and other mobile devices. The Defense Department had balked at giving up any of the frequencies it uses for military purposes, such as controlling satellites and guiding precision weapons. Under the plan announced Tuesday, the Pentagon would give up two chunks of the spectrum, moving its uses to other frequencies by the end of 2008. The wireless companies that buy the rights to the Pentagon's former frequencies will pay for the transfer.
H-P, DELL KILL PRINTER DEAL: Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's largest personal-computer maker, said it will no longer have rival Dell Computer Corp. sell its printers and related products. Hewlett-Packard is ending the relationship because Dell, the world's second-largest PC maker, is considering selling its own printers, Hewlett-Packard spokeswoman Diane Roncal said. Dell provides a small amount of Hewlett-Packard's printer sales, she said. Dell Chief Executive Michael Dell has said the company is studying the possibility of selling its own printers, which investors say are more profitable than PCs. Hewlett-Packard's printer division reported an operating profit of $768-million in its fiscal second quarter while the company's units selling PCs and server computers had losses.
SWISS ARMY SELLS TO SUPPLIER: Swiss Army Brands Inc. agreed to a buyout offer from its supplier, closely held Victorinox AG, for about $24-million. A committee of independent Swiss Army Brands' directors call the bid of $9 a share fair and Ibach, Switzerland-based Victorinox has begun a tender offer. Victorinox already owns about 68 percent of Swiss Army Brands, which has distributed Victorinox's knives since 1937, including its hallmark red Swiss Army pocket knife. It also sells apparel under the Victorinox name and opened a retail story in New York last year.
GM ACQUISITION OF DAEWOO: The European Union Commission on Tuesday cleared General Motors Corp.'s acquisition of parts of South Korea's Daewoo Motor Co., which went bankrupt last year. The deal posed few antitrust problems in Europe since Daewoo has less than 1 percent of the European car market. GM has about 10 percent of the market share in western Europe. GM and its global partners will inject about $400-million in cash to acquire a 67 percent stake in Daewoo.