DILLER SAYS VIVENDI JOB TEMPORARY: Barry Diller said his new job as head of Vivendi Universal's U.S. entertainment businesses, including the Universal film studio and music group, will last just a few months. Diller, speaking at a conference in Los Angeles, described his role as co-chief executive as part of a "provisional government" that will last "four, six or eight months." Diller is also CEO of electronic commerce company USA Interactive, which includes St. Petersburg's Home Shopping Network. Vivendi CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou is looking to Diller to run the U.S. businesses while the Paris-based company focuses on reducing its debt. Meanwhile, Vivendi said the Securities and Exchange Commission's inquiry into how it operated and presented its accounts under former chief executive Jean-Marie Messier, is now a formal investigation.
XEROX CUTTING 2,400 JOBS: Xerox Corp. said it will cut more than 2,400 jobs, or 3.4 percent of its worldwide work force, through layoffs and voluntary departures to try to reduce costs and boost efficiency. The cuts include the previously announced closing of a call center in St. Petersburg, resulting in a loss of 160 jobs. The center will be consolidated with a similar operation in Lewisville, Texas. The cuts will result in a pretax charge against earnings of $350-million to $400-million in the fourth quarter.
NORTHROP TO SELL TRW AUTOMOTIVE: Northrop Grumman Corp. said it will sell control of the automotive parts segment of TRW Inc. for $4.13-billion to a private equity firm once its merger with TRW closes, expected by year-end. Northrop will finance part of the sale to the New York investment firm Blackstone Group and will retain a 20 percent interest in TRW Automotive.
H&R BLOCK SETTLES TEXAS LAWSUITS: H&R Block Inc. agreed to pay as much as $311-million in rebates and legal fees to settle lawsuits by Texas customers who claimed the largest U.S. tax preparer charged exorbitant interest on tax-refund loans. H&R Block shares rose as much as 13 percent after announcement of the settlement eased concerns that billions of dollars in punitive damages might be imposed in the class-action suit. Instead of receiving cash, about 700,000 Texans will get coupons worth $74.90 each in tax services for five years. H&R Block has been sued in six states and in federal court in Illinois since 1992 over the tax-refund loans, which charge annual interest rates exceeding 100 percent.
CHARTER RESTATING RESULTS: Charter Communications Inc., the nation's third-largest cable company, said it will restate its 2000 and 2001 results to add an additional $2.6-billion in expenses and liabilities. Charter, which is controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, said an additional $1.4-billion of franchise costs and $1.2-billion of deferred income tax liability should have been booked in its acquisition of 18 cable companies in 1999 and 2000. The restatement will increase the company's 2001 third-quarter net loss by $8.9-million, or 3 cents a share, while its combined net loss for the first quarter of 2001 will increase by $25-million, or 9 cents a share.
Home Depot Inc.
The nation's largest home improvement retailer reported a 20.8 percent profit increase for its quarter ended Nov. 3 but acknowledged sales were slipping at older stores, sending stock prices down.
3rdQtr Year Ago
Revenue $14.5-bil $13.3-bil
Net Income $940-mil $778-mil
Per Share 40 cents 33 cents
The Largo drug distributor said an accounting change on goodwill and other intangible assets caused the loss for its quarter ended Sept. 30.
2ndQtr Year Ago
Revenue $73.7-mil $66.2-mil
Net Income -$12.3-mil $735,466
Per Share -$1.73 10 cents