Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Tuesday, September 2, 2003



JAL orders 7 new Boeing 767s

LONDON >> The Boeing Co., JAL Group and Mitsubishi Corp. yesterday confirmed they have finalized an agreement for the acquisition of seven new Boeing 767-300ER airplanes, which is a follow-on order to increase JAL Group's 767 fleet to 40 by 2006.

The order was valued at $850 million at list prices, although airlines often negotiate steep discounts. The airplanes will be operated through an operating lease arrangement with Mitsubishi, the companies said.

Chicago-based Boeing has carried the order on its Web site as an unidentified customer since booking it in June. With this order, air carriers in Japan account for 34 percent of Boeing Commercial Airplanes' 2003 orders.

Grasso deal to save NYSE $3.5 mil

NEW YORK >> By renegotiating the contract of Richard A. Grasso, the New York Stock Exchange will save as much as $3.5 million this year, members of the exchange's board said yesterday.

For a major Wall Street firm, $3.5 million might cover its yearly car-service bills, but for the NYSE, which made a mere $28 million last year, the saving is significant. It underscores as well the extent to which the bountiful contract that Grasso, the exchange's top executive, signed in 1999 had become an albatross.

The board last week disclosed that it would pay Grasso a lump sum of $140 million in accrued savings and incentives, in addition to a base salary of $1.4 million and a bonus of at least $1 million. The payout was triggered by the board's decision over the last few months to renegotiate Grasso's contract to extend his service and to change its terms.

Directors at the exchange said that by ending the old contract the exchange would save on interest it would have owed Grasso through 2005, when the contract would have expired. For this year, the saving amounted to $3.5 million, the directors said; all told, Grasso might well have walked away with a sum closer to $150 million at the end.

AOL reaches Net deal with British retailer

Dixons Group Plc, Britain's largest consumer-electronics retailer, said AOL Time Warner Inc.'s America Online will replace Wanadoo SA's Freeserve Plc as its Internet partner from next year after offering better terms.

AOL will become the retailer's preferred Internet service provider for narrowband access products in February 2004 and for broadband products a year later, Dixons said.

Asian indexes hit 14-month highs

Asian stocks rallied, sending benchmark indexes in Japan and South Korea to 14-month highs. The gains followed a government report showing that consumers are spending more in the United States, the world's largest economy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average surged 3.2 percent,or 326.63 points, to 10,670.18. It was the index's biggest one-day advance in two months.

South Korea's Kospi index added 0.6 percent, or 4.64 points, to 764.11.

France Telecom to buy rest of Orange unit

France Telecom SA, Europe's second-biggest phone company, offered 6.6 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in stock for the stake it doesn't already own in Orange SA to benefit from faster profit growth at the wireless unit.

France Telecom offered 11 of its shares for every 25 shares of Orange, the company said. The offer for the remaining 13.8 percent of Orange values each share at 9.94 euros, or 18 percent more than Friday's close. Orange shares jumped as much as 15 percent.

Like Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG, the former French monopoly is counting on demand for mobile phones that allow users to send e-mail and access the Internet to counter falling revenue from its fixed-line business. Orange, the No. 3 mobile-phone operator in Europe, has 45 million subscribers, compared with France Telecom's 33 million fixed-line customers.


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