CARNIVAL BID FOR PRINCESS ADVANCES: European Union regulators unconditionally cleared Carnival Corp.'s $5.5-billion bid for P&O Princess Cruises, dealing a blow to Royal Caribbean's rival $3.7-billion offer. Although Royal Caribbean was offering less for Princess, it argued its bid stood a better chance of winning regulatory approval. Carnival and Royal Caribbean, both based in Miami, are Nos. 1 and 2 in the cruise market, while London-based Princess is No. 3. Both bids still are undergoing antitrust review in the United States.
LEVEL 3 BIDS FOR WILLIAMS COMMUNICATIONS: Hoping to buy a competitor at a deep discount, upstart long-distance company Level 3 Communications is bidding for rival network operator Williams Communications Group, which is about to emerge from bankruptcy protection. The move comes only two weeks after Broomfield, Colo.-based Level 3 raised $500-million from private investors, including Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., to fund acquisitions. Level 3's existing network has plenty of unused capacity, analysts say, but the acquisition could provide another crop of customers to help fill those pipes.
KMART TO CUT MORE JOBS: Kmart Corp., the largest U.S. retailer to file for bankruptcy protection, said it plans to eliminate an unspecified amount of jobs in the next two months because sales continue to decline. Ron Hutchison, the company's chief restructuring officer, said at a bankruptcy hearing that the cuts would affect employees at Kmart's headquarters, distribution centers and stores. Kmart eliminated 22,000 jobs this year as it closed 283 stores. The company still hopes to emerge from bankruptcy in 2003, though Hutchison said that will depend on how well it does during the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.
NYSE SEEKS ADDITIONAL SITE: The New York Stock Exchange is looking at building a second trading floor away from Wall Street, and considering locations including neighboring Westchester County. NYSE spokesman Ray Pellechia said the exchange is looking actively, but did not offer a time line. NYSE chairman and chief executive Richard Grasso has previously said the exchange might consider an additional site. One reason would be so its trading floor operations would be less concentrated and therefore less vulnerable to a crisis in New York City.
BURGER KING DEAL MAY BE NEAR: Diageo PLC is said to be nearing a deal to sell its fast-food business Burger King Corp. for at least $2.1-billion. A consortium led by Texas Pacific Group, a U.S. venture capital firm, is the potential buyer. London-based Diageo, the world's largest liquor company, long said it planned to unload Burger King in a sale or spinoff to concentrate on its much more profitable business of making and selling alcoholic beverages.
MORTGAGE RATES HIT 35-YEAR LOW: The average interest rate on 30-year home mortgages has dropped to 6.34 percent, the lowest since 6.29 percent in May 1967, Bankrate.com said. Bankrate.com analyst Greg McBride said heavy buying of government securities and mortgage-backed securities pushed long-term rates down. A week earlier, the national average was 6.54 percent.
TREASURY AUCTION: Yields fell on the Treasury's two-year notes to the lowest on record at the government's monthly sale of the securities. The Treasury sold a $27-billion of the notes at a yield of 2.27 percent, down from 2.97 percent at the previous auction in June. The government received bids equal to 1.56 times the amount of the two-year notes sold. That compares with a bid-cover ratio of 1.31 at the previous auction, a sign of increased demand.