Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Monday, February 15, 1999

Report: Volvo talking with U.S. truck firm

LONDON -- Swedish vehicle maker Volvo AB says it is talking to U.S. truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp. about a possible takeover, the Financial Times reported in today's editions.

Senior executives from Volvo, which agreed last month to sell its automobile division to Ford Motor Co., have met with officials from Chicago-based Navistar to discuss a buyout offer, the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed source close to the talks. The report speculated that the deal could be worth $3 billion, but added that the price could be substantially lower if Volvo acquired only Navistar's heavy truck operations.

Philippine Airlines sees record loss

MANILA -- Philippine Airlines reported a record loss for the first nine months of its fiscal year and said it plans to sell its maintenance and engineering operations to pay off creditors and avoid closure. PAL reported a net loss today of 9.98 billion pesos ($260 million) in the first nine months of the fiscal year, which ends in March, more than double its $124 million loss a year ago. The airline blamed the loss on a cutback in flight operations, higher financing charges and its temporary closure last year because of a labor dispute. In a letter to workers, PAL chief adviser Peter Foster said the company is discussing possible layoffs with union leaders if the sale of its maintenance and engineering operations goes through.

In other news . . .

TOKYO -- Japanese stocks rose today for the third straight trading day, supported by a government decision last week to support major banks with public funds. The Nikkei stock average rose 81.03 points, or 0.58 percent, closing at 14,054.72. The Bank of Japan on Friday announced a plan to inject $66 billion in public funds into 15 major banks to keep Japan's banking system afloat.

Hicks, Muse closes Equity Fund IV LP

DALLAS -- Buyout firm Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc. said it has closed to new investors the Equity Fund IV LP, a $4.1 billion fund which has 20 percent of its limited partners based outside the United States. The fund was formed to invest in a diversified portfolio of businesses in a range of industries.

Dallas-based Hicks, Muse said that with the completion of Fund IV, it has raised more than $10 billion for global private equity investments since its formation in 1989.

Intel-watcher Kurlak leaves Merrill Lynch

NEW YORK -- Thomas Kurlak, a Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst whose bullish forecasts helped promote the Intel Corp.'s stock price into the stratosphere but who changed his mind too soon, has resigned to join a leading hedge fund.

Tiger Management LLC said Kurlak would manage the giant fund's portfolio of technology stocks beginning later this month. Merrill did not announce a replacement for Kurlak, who worked at the brokerage firm for 20 years and became one of Wall Street's most respected technology experts.

For years, Kurlak made unerringly accurate calls on Intel stock, promoting it to Merrill's large base of retail and institutional clients as it grew from a little-known chip maker into one of America's most profitable companies. But Kurlak's increasingly cautious predictions about Intel last year proved overly bearish, hurting his reputation, fund managers said.

Kobrick names manager for Emerging Growth

BOSTON -- Kobrick Funds has named Executive Vice President Michael T. Carmen as manager of its Emerging Growth Fund, which specializes in small-cap companies. Carmen, 37, has served as an associate portfolio manager of all three Kobrick Funds with company President Frederick R. Kobrick.

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