Business Notes


Microsoft backs Icahn's effort to sack Yahoo's directors

Microsoft Corp. threw its weight behind investor Carl Icahn's effort to dump Yahoo Inc.'s board, saying Monday that a successful shareholder rebellion would encourage the software maker to renew its bid to buy Yahoo's Internet search engine or possibly the entire company. The unexpected endorsement gives Icahn a carrot to dangle before Yahoo shareholders as he wages an acrimonious campaign to replace Yahoo's nine directors at the company's annual meeting Aug. 1. It marks the first time that Microsoft has publicly sided with Icahn since the billionaire investor launched his attempted coup nearly eight weeks ago. The two sides decided they could work together after Icahn held ”frequent“ discussions with Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and some of his top lieutenants during the past week, according to a letter that Icahn sent Monday to Yahoo shareholders.

Anheuser say InBev offer too low

Anheuser-Busch Cos. says InBev's plan to remove its board is an attempt by the Belgian beer maker to buy the company at a price that is too low. InBev said earlier it will file a preliminary consent solicitation asking Anheuser's board to consult shareholders about replacing Anheuser's board. The move is part of its hostile $46 billion bid for St. Louis-based Anheuser, which Anheuser rejected two weeks ago, saying the offer undervalued the company. Shareholders have the right to sue Anheuser's board if they feel the directors are not acting in their best interest. A majority of shareholders would need to back InBev's plan..

Financial sector opens weaker

U.S. financial companies have lost more than $1 trillion in value this year, and yet another decline on Monday shows concerns aren't going away soon. Banks and brokerages began the week lower on the same fears that have been proven toxic since last summer in the ongoing credit crisis. The drop in names like Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch caused the financial section of the Standard & Poor's 500 index to lose almost $150 billion in value on Monday, according to the rating agency. That means S&P 500's 85 financial components have lost some $1.3 trillion since the sector reached a high last October. Even more startling is that shares of 35 of the companies, which include insurers, have lost more than half their value so far this year. The financial sector used to be the index's main driver, and many economists think that the broader market will rise or fall on its health.

Airlines' on-time performance better

Domestic airlines improved their on-time arrival rates in May, although more than one in five flights still failed to get passengers to their destination as scheduled, according to government data released Monday. A total of 21 percent of commercial flights in the U.S. arrived at least 15 minutes late, were canceled or diverted in May, according to the Transportation Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That is down from more than 22 percent of late flights in the same month last year and in April 2008. The previous month's figure was higher in part because American Airlines, the nation's largest carrier, was forced to ground thousands of flights amid tighter government scrutiny of maintenance issues.

VW nears decision on new U.S. plant

Germany's Volkswagen AG says it will likely announce a decision on its plans for a new U.S. plant after a supervisory board meeting July 15. Europe's largest carmaker has been considering locating a new production facility in Alabama, Tennessee or Michigan. The company wants to increase its presence in the United States, where it holds only 2 percent of the market. VW officials have said the company intends to more than triple its U.S. sales to 1 million by 2018.

Airlines cutting work forces

AirTran Airways said it plans to cut 300 flight attendants and 180 pilots from its work force through voluntary exits and furloughs. AirTran, which is based in Orlando and has its hub in Atlanta, said it plans to cut about $16 million from its annual costs through the pilot and flight attendant job cuts. AirTran has about 2,000 flight attendants and 1,450 pilots. Meanwhile, Denver-based Frontier Airlines says it is cutting 456 jobs in Colorado, and United Airlines has told state officials it plans to eliminate 150 jobs in the state.