Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

Briefcase

March 31, 2005

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Miramax founders, Disney part company

The breakup of the 12-year relationship between The Walt Disney Co. and indie film pioneers Bob and Harvey Weinstein allows the company some new latitude: making less-expensive family films and co-producing sequels to some of Miramax's biggest hits.

Yet Disney still must overcome the perception that it is unable to sustain relationships with partners, a central challenge to signing a new deal with partner Pixar Animation Studios.

Disney bought Miramax -- founded by the Weinsteins -- in 1993 for $80 million. Disney will keep Miramax and its vast film library, while the Weinsteins will keep the Dimension Films label".

Energy

GM, DaimlerChrysler pursue hydrogen cars

General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG have signed agreements with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over the next five years, the automakers said Wednesday.

GM, the world's largest automaker, plans to build a fleet of 40 hydrogen fuel vehicles. Under the program, GM will spend $44 million to distribute the vehicles in Washington, New York, California and Michigan. The Energy Department also will provide $44 million in the deal, which is set to expire in September 2009.

DaimlerChrysler, which has the largest fleet of fuel cell vehicles of any automaker, will invest more than $70 million in its partnership with the Energy Department, the German-American company said.

Finance

AIG acknowledges improper accounting

Amid widening government probes into its financial practices, insurance giant American International Group Inc. acknowledged Wednesday it had improperly booked transactions with a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. that artificially boosted its reserves.

AIG also said that it had not yet completed an in-house review of its accounting and would have to delay filing its annual report until April 30. New York-based AIG earlier had said it expected to file the report today.

Telecommunications

Qwest hires proxy firm

Qwest has hired a proxy consulting firm, a clear sign it may bypass MCI's board and ask the long-distance phone company's shareholders to vote on Qwest's $8.45 billion offer as an alternative to MCI's new merger agreement with Verizon.

Investors responded favorably again to the prospect of Qwest persisting with its bid, pushing MCI's shares even further above the $7.64 billion price tag Verizon Communications Inc. agreed to pay Tuesday.

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