Business Notes


Breeders' Cup cutting costs related to purses, marketing

The Breeders' Cup board of directors announced Friday that they are dropping nearly $6 million in funding for purses for its existing stakes program, about 120 races, as part of cost-cutting measures to maintain the $25.5 million in purses for the championships. The move was announced in response to "anticipated losses in nominations revenue because of recent trends in the bloodstock market and decreased revenue related to the worldwide economic downturn," according to the news release. The Breeders' Cup is financed by nomination fees paid on behalf of stallions and foals. Additionally, according to The Blood-Horse, a memo sent to tracks warns that the Breeders' Cup is planning to cut TV and marketing spending by $5 million to cope with a projected shortfall of more than $10 million.


Arrest in 'giant Ponzi scheme'

The implosion of a Wall Street firm whose owner is accused in a $50 billion swindle left regulators scrambling to seize control of its assets Friday as dozens of investors worried that they had gone from rich to poor overnight. The collapse of Bernard L. Madoff's company came just hours before his arrest Thursday on a single securities fraud count. Madoff, who allegedly told his employees he was running a "giant Ponzi scheme," was freed on $10 million bail.

Smithfield workers vote for union

Workers at the world's largest hog processing plant voted Thursday to bring in a union to represent them. About 4,600 of Smithfield Packing Co.'s 5,000 employees in the tiny town of Tar Heel, N.C., were eligible to vote over two days of balloting overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The margin of victory for the United Food and Commercial Workers was just 162 votes out of 3,920 cast. The UFCW had tried to win the right to represent workers since the plant — which processes up to 32,000 live hogs a day — opened 16 years ago. Smithfield works with unions at eight of its 13 U.S. pork processing plants and distribution centers.

Haven Trust is year's 24th bank failure

Regulators on Friday closed Haven Trust Bank, marking the 24th U.S. bank failure this year, and the fifth in Georgia. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of the Duluth, Ga.-based bank, which had total assets of $572 million and deposits of $515 million as of Dec. 8. The FDIC said BB&T Corp. has agreed to assume all of the bank's deposits, including those that exceeded the insurance limit, for $112,000. BB&T will also buy about $55 million of the failed bank's assets; the FDIC will retain the rest for later disposition.

Delta to offer voluntary severance

Delta Air Lines Inc., the world's biggest carrier, will offer voluntary severance payouts to a majority of the 75,000 employees at Delta and Northwest's mainline operations as part of a plan to cut an unspecified number of jobs, executives said Friday. Chief Executive Richard Anderson and President Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees that the program is similar to one earlier this year that Delta used to trim about 4,000 jobs. Northwest previously trimmed jobs of its own before being acquired by Delta on Oct. 29. The executives said the cuts are necessary because Delta will be reducing systemwide capacity in 2009 by 6 percent to 8 percent because the weak economy has eroded demand for seats on airplanes.

KB Toys prepares for liquidation sales

A bankruptcy judge on Friday granted KB Toys' requests to use its existing cash management system and continue paying its workers as it prepares for going-out-of-business sales. The nation's largest mall-based toy retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday and announced it will begin liquidation sales.

Mall owner tries to keep bankruptcy at bay

Troubled mall owner General Growth Properties Inc., trying to stave off a bankruptcy filing, said it is still trying to negotiate an extension on $900 million in debt that was due to be repaid Friday, but warned there can be "no assurance" it will get a reprieve. The mortgages cover two Las Vegas malls, Fashion Show and Palazzo. Earlier this month, Chicago-based General Growth received a two-week extension on the loans.

Compiled from Staff, wire reports