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Business Briefs

Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Thursday, June 8, 2000

Newspaper chain on the sale block

PHOENIX -- Central Newspapers Inc., owner of The Indianapolis Star and The Arizona Republic, is in preliminary talks about a possible sale or business combination. News of the talks sent the company's stock soaring 65 percent today. Central Newspapers declined to identify its potential partners, but a story in The Indianapolis Star said suitors could include Gannett Co., Tribune Co. or Knight Ridder Inc. Central Newspapers, also owns three other daily newspapers in Indiana and one in Louisiana.

In other industry news, Gannett agreed to buy 21 daily newspapers from Canada's Thompson Newspapers Inc. for $1.125 billion. The papers are in five mainland states. Gannett, owner of the USA Today, the Honolulu Advertiser and more than 70 other newspapers, is already the largest newspaper publisher in the United States.

Procter & Gamble ousts chief executive

CINCINNATI -- Procter & Gamble Co., the largest U.S. maker of household products, warned it would miss analysts' forecasts for a second straight quarter and replaced CEO Durk Jager with Alan Lafley.

Earnings in the fiscal fourth quarter ending this month will be unchanged, compared to expected profit growth of 15 percent to 17 percent, the company said. The company's stock fell sharply today on the news.

Lafley, 52, president of global beauty care and North America, replaces Jager, a 30-year veteran who has been CEO of the maker of Tide detergent and Bounty paper towels since January 1999. Procter & Gamble's board called back retired CEO John Pepper to be chairman.

In other news . . .

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate U.S. mortgages slipped to 8.32 percent this week, down from 8.54 percent last week, mortgage broker Freddie Mac said today. Fifteen-year mortgages dipped to 8.04 percent this week, down from 8.24 percent. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged an initial rate of 7.24 percent this week, close to last week's 7.25 percent.

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