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Archive for Saturday, March 31, 2001

BUSINESS BRIEFCASE FOR SATURDAY

March 31, 2001

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Microsoft chief Bill Gates ventured into rival territory on Friday, showing off the U.S. software giant's much-anticipated Xbox game in Japan, home of competitor Sony's best-selling PlayStation 2.

Gates said he hoped the special hand-held controller, which is smaller than the one designed for the United States, would help lure finicky Japanese gamers to the Xbox.

"We see Japan as the center of this business," Gates said at the Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, Japan. "(The controller) is a good example of the commitment we have ... to the requirements of this marketplace."

The Xbox, slated for release in Japan and the United States this fall, marks the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's first foray into the game console business.

BEER

Czech 'Budweiser'

hits U.S. market

More than 60 years after its beer was barred from the U.S. shores, a Czech brewery has found a way to sell its suds in America: just don't call it Budweiser.

The brewery Budejovicky Budvar claims to be producing the "true Budweiser" and has been fighting for decades over the trademark with U.S. Budweiser producer, Anheuser-Busch.

Using the name Czechvar, the company has shipped nearly 53,000 gallons of the beer since November. Czechvar is on the shelves in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Georgia and North Carolina, said Budvar director Jiri Bocek.

Budvar officials hope to sell more than 79,000 gallons of their beer in the United States this year, but anticipate it increasing to more than 395,000 gallons annually by 2004.

ACQUISITION DISMISSAL

IBP files lawsuit

against Tyson Foods

Meatpacking giant IBP filed a lawsuit Friday to force Tyson Foods to complete its $3.2 billion purchase of the Dakota Dunes, S.D., company.

The suit in Chancery Court in New Castle County, Del., came a day after Tyson nixed the deal that would have made Tyson the nation's top beef and pork producer.

"Tyson's actions are completely unjustified by anything that has transpired and we will do what is necessary to protect our shareholders and our company," Robert Peterson, IBP chairman and chief executive officer, said.

A spokesman for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson declined to comment on the suit Friday.

Thursday's decision came nine days after IBP said an investigation into its appetizer unit, DFG Foods, uncovered potential manipulation of financial records and product theft, and mismanagement by former unit managers.

DEFENSE

Northrop moves closer

to $3.8 billion merger

Northrop Grumman Corp. said Friday it has received regulatory clearance to buy defense electronics and shipbuilder Litton Industries Inc., paving way for a $3.8 billion merger.

The No. 5 U.S. defense contractor, which makes weapons systems, had said it wanted the Woodland Hills-based Litton to enhance its portfolio of electronics offerings.

Northrop, headquartered in Los Angeles, also extended its tender offer for Litton shares to Monday. The offer should close then, Northrup officials said.

The company had revenues of $7.6 billion in 2000 and has about 39,000 employees.

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