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Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Briefcase

April 17, 2002

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Bank to change focus

FleetBoston Financial Corp. plans to sell its Robertson Stephens investment bank and pull back from Latin America in moves to focus on its lower-risk lending businesses, company officials said Tuesday.

FleetBoston chief executive officer Chad Gifford, above, made the announcement as the bank reported first-quarter earnings of $725 million, or 70 cents a share, on target with analysts' estimates.

The Boston-based bank said its first-quarter earnings of 70 cents a share compared with net income of $142 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Investigation: Sources say Andersen may avoid criminal charges

Federal prosecutors will defer pursuing criminal obstruction charges against Arthur Andersen LLP in a settlement requiring the accounting firm to admit it knew employees were wrongfully destroying documents related to the Enron Corp. collapse, people familiar with the ongoing negotiations say.

In the settlement, still being finalized, Andersen also must cooperate fully with the Justice Department's investigation of Enron's bankruptcy, these people told The Associated Press. The sides are expected to announce the deal today in Washington.

Economy: Production, prices both post increases for March

The economy chugged ahead on the comeback trail with production by U.S. industry posting the biggest gain in nearly two years. But inflation crept higher, reflecting a worrisome spurt in oil prices, a potential pothole for the recovery.

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that output at the nation's factories, mines and utilities jumped 0.7 percent in March, after a solid 0.3 percent gain a sign that the turnaround in the manufacturing sector is gaining momentum. It marked the third straight monthly increase.

The Labor Department's Consumer Price Index, a closely watched inflation gauge, rose 0.3 percent in March, following a 0.2 percent advance.

Tourism: Construction begins on new travel center at speedway

Ground was broken Tuesday on a project to build a Travel Information Center at the entrance to the Kansas Speedway.

Kansas Speedway will build and operate the 5,060-square-foot center through a contract with the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. When completed this fall, the center will replace a similar facility just east of the Speedway on Interstate 70.

Manufacturer: C.R. Bard reports jump in revenues for quarter

C.R. Bard Inc., which recently terminated a merger deal with Tyco International Ltd., on Tuesday reported first-quarter net income rose 15 percent as sales increased 6 percent, and said full-year results were on track.

The Murray Hill, N.J.-based maker of vascular, urology, oncology and surgical specialty products said it earned $34.7 million, or 65 cents per diluted share, after charges. That compared with $33.2 million, or 65 cents, in the year-earlier quarter. Bard also said it was no longer looking for a buyer and would continue operating as an independent company. C.R. Bard is the parent company of Lawrence's Davol Inc., 700 E. 22nd St.

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