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Archive for Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Business briefs

July 11, 2001

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Specialty clothing retailer The Limited Inc. is selling its Lane Bryant chain of women's apparel stores to Charming Shoppes Inc. for $335 million in cash and stock.

The Limited, which operates more than 2,700 stores under Express, Lerner New York, Henri Bendel and other names and controls the parent of the Victoria's Secret chain, said the deal announced Tuesday for Lane Bryant would enable it to focus on its core fashion brands.

The sale includes $280 million in cash and $55 million in stock, which will give it a stake of about 8 percent in Charming Shoppes.

The deal is expected to close before October.

INVESTING

Merrill Lynch limits

analysts' stock buys

Merrill Lynch & Co. became the first major brokerage Tuesday to ban its analysts from buying stock in companies they research, a move designed to counter growing concern that analysts may be biased in their public assessments of stocks.

The measure addressed one area of concern -- the potential for an analyst to have a direct, personal interest in touting a particular stock. But critics of the industry were quick to note that it does not deal with the potentially larger problem of influence on analysts from their firms' lucrative investment banking businesses.

ACQUISITION

Amerada Hess to buy Triton Energy Ltd.

Amerada Hess Corp. said Tuesday it would pay $2.7 billion for Triton Energy Ltd., an independent oil-exploration company with operations off the coast of West Africa.

New York-based Amerada Hess said it would buy Triton's shares for $45 each, a premium of 52 percent over Triton's closing per share price Monday. Amerada Hess also would assume $500 million in Triton debt.

Dallas-based Triton thrilled investors when it hit oil off Equatorial Guinea in late 1999, causing its shares to jump 27 percent in one day. The company's stock has gyrated since then, rising and falling with nearly every result from other test wells, but it has also begun producing more oil off West Africa.

RETAIL

Sears trims cosmetics, puts Avon brand on hold

Sears, Roebuck and Co. is dropping its skin care and color cosmetics business, resulting in a $53 million charge in the second quarter, the company announced Tuesday.

Sears also reached an agreement with Avon Products, Inc. that its department stores will not launch Avon's new retail brand, beComing, this fall.

Sears will exit the skin care and color cosmetics business next year, the company said.

Sears compensated Avon Tuesday for not carrying its new brand. Details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Avon will continue with its plans to launch the brand in J.C. Penney stores.

Sears still will offer fragrances, bath and body products and candles, which are available in most Sears stores.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Lucent combines units

Struggling telecommunications equipment maker Lucent Technologies Inc., accelerating its wide-ranging reorganization plan, is consolidating its five internal business divisions into two primary operating units.

Mobility, comprised mostly of the company's Wireless Networks Group, will handle all wireless communications products, the company said Tuesday.

The other unit, to be called Integrated Network Solutions, combines Lucent divisions that handled data networking, optical networking, switching and software platforms -- all for wired communications networks.

Lucent has been eliminating thousands of jobs and offering retirement buyouts to many U.S. workers under an effort to cut annual costs by $2 billion.

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