Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

FDIC lifts desist order against Finance Factors

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has lifted a cease-and-desist order against Finance Factors Ltd., the company said.

The FDIC agreed to terminate the order after Finance Factors appointed new outside board members, improved its internal loan policies, increased its reserves and decreased its share of bad loans.

The FDIC and the state Division of Financial Institutions issued cease-and-desist orders in February 2000 after an FDIC audit turned up problems in the company's lending practices.

Finance Factors, which was founded nearly 50 years ago, offers savings accounts and residential and commercial real estate loans.

"We have accomplished a great deal in the past year and continue to work hard to provide the financial services our customers need and want," said Steven Teruya, Finance Factors' president.

Lens suit could cost J&J up to $860 million

CAMDEN, N.J. >> Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay as much as $860 million to settle lawsuits accusing the company of misleading consumers into prematurely throwing away disposable Acuvue contact lenses.

The suits claimed the world's largest medical-device maker boosted sales of its 1-Day Acuvue soft lenses by advising consumers to use them just once, even though the product is identical to regular Acuvue lenses, which may be worn as long as two weeks.

Under the settlement, the New Brunswick, N.J.-based drugmaker would pay as much as $840 million in cash and coupons to consumers, according to papers filed in state court in New Jersey. The agreement also includes money for new eye exams, as well as $20 million in fees for consumers' lawyers.

AT&T fined $520,000 for phone 'slamming'

WASHINGTON >> U.S. regulators fined AT&T Corp., the largest U.S. long-distance phone service provider, $520,000 for switching customers to its service without their permission.

The Federal Communications Commission found the New York-based firm switched customers' designated provider on 11 telephone lines without first getting customer consent, a illegal practice known as slamming.

Major airlines experience turbulent first quarter

Five of the nation's largest airlines -- UAL Corp., Delta Air Lines Inc., US Airways Group Inc., Northwest Airlines Corp. and America West Holdings Corp. -- posted hefty losses in the first quarter of 2001, suffering from reduced spending by business travelers and increased costs for labor and fuel.

In announcing earnings on today, UAL and Delta reported declining revenues, whereas increased revenues at US Airways, Northwest and America West were offset by higher expenses. UAL, the parent company of United Air Lines, suffered its third straight quarter of losses, while Delta reported its first quarterly loss in six years.

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