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Archive for Saturday, January 24, 2004

Briefcase

January 24, 2004

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Toyota drives into No. 2

Toyota Motor Corp. outsold Ford Motor Co. last year to become the world's No. 2 automaker behind General Motors Corp., preliminary sales data released by the Japanese company showed Friday.

A Toyota spokesman said estimated unit sales for 2003 reached 6.78 million vehicles, up 9.9 percent from 6.17 million the previous year.

Thursday, Ford reported its 2003 sales slipped to 6.72 million vehicles, down 3.6 percent from 6.97 million.

Above, Marian Gzyl recently shopped for a Toyota Camry in Center Line, Mich.

Banking

Regions, Union Planters to merge in $6B deal

Regions Financial Corp. and Union Planters Corp. have agreed to join in a $6 billion deal that creates a Southeastern banking powerhouse.

The agreement, announced Friday, continues the consolidation of the U.S. banking industry and would create the nation's 14th-largest bank holding company in total deposits.

The new company will be known as Regions Financial Corp. It will have total assets of $81 billion, total deposits of $56 billion, 5.1 million customers, 1,400 branches, 1,700 ATMs and more than 140 brokerage offices across 15 states from Texas to the Atlantic coast.

Its banking operations will be based in Birmingham, Ala., where Regions currently is based. Union Planters currently is based in Memphis.

Technology

Alltel reports increase in earnings, cut in jobs

Alltel Corp. said Friday it would eliminate as many as 600 jobs, or 3 percent of its work force, even as the communications giant reported a fourth-quarter earnings increase that met Wall Street expectations.

The elimination of between 400 and 600 positions comes as Alltel makes regional and corporate structural changes expected to be in place late next month.

Alltel said it would take a one-time charge of $15 million in its first quarter and save about $20 million in 2004 with the job cuts. It did not say how many of the cuts will result in employees being laid off.

Wall Street

NYSE companies receive formal notices from SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission is contemplating civil charges against at least three New York Stock Exchange specialist firms for violating securities laws and exchange rules against improper trading activities, according to statements Friday from the firms.

LaBranche & Co. Inc., Van Der Moolen Holdings NV and Fleet Specialist, a subsidiary of FleetBoston Financial Corp., each confirmed they received a "Wells notice" from the SEC, a formal notice in which the commission warns a company that civil enforcement charges may be recommended against it. All three firms also have received a similar notice from the NYSE, which intends to bring a formal disciplinary proceeding against the firms for violating exchange rules.

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