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Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Briefcase

April 20, 2004

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GM, Ford to partner on new transmission

In a first-of-its kind partnership, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are investing $720 million in plants to build a new six-speed automatic transmission.

The front-wheel-drive transmission is expected to offer an estimated 4 percent improved fuel economy over traditional four-speed transmissions in front-wheel-drive cars.

GM is investing $350 million in the effort, while Ford is putting $370 million into it. Ford and GM previously sold each others' parts and had other business relationships during the years, but this effort marks the first time the two have joined on such a broad program.


Telecommunications

Sprint, AT&T strike wireless Internet deal

Overland Park-based Sprint Corp. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. have reached a wireless Internet roaming agreement for five U.S. airports.

The deal announced Monday would allow Sprint PCS customers to use AT&T Wireless' Wi-Fi network at Denver International, Philadelphia International and Raleigh-Durham International airports. AT&T Wireless customers will be able to use Sprint's Wi-Fi network at Kansas City International and Salt Lake City International airports.

Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, radiates a high-speed Internet connection that many computers can share for about 300 feet.

Energy

Shell's estimates tainted

The chief financial officer of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Cos. stepped down Monday as the company further downgraded estimates of its oil and gas reserves.

Shell said it thought its fresh statement should close the controversy about reserves, which a senior executive conceded had been a "major embarrassment" for the company.

Judith Boynton, who will remain a Shell employee but left her post as chief financial officer, is the latest in a string of executive casualties prompted by the affair.

Releasing a summary of an internal audit of the estimates, Shell announced what it said was a near-final estimate that 4.85 billion barrels were downgraded from "proven."

Wall Street

Controversial ImClone reaches two-year high

Too bad Martha Stewart and Sam Waksal weren't more patient with their investments in ImClone Systems Inc.

On Monday, the company's share price soared past prescandal levels and reached a two-year high, rising 12 percent to close at $66.38 in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The stock hasn't been that high since Waksal tried to unload close to 80,000 shares in the company before a regulatory setback was to be announced in December 2001. Waksal and his family's attempts to sell their stock near $60 a share prompted Stewart to do the same -- actions that ultimately led to felony convictions for Waksal and Stewart.

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