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In Business This Week: HEADLINER: FRANK SALIZZONI

O.K., PRINT UP NEW BUSINESS CARDS

Frank Salizzoni's resume needs updating. A year ago, the former president of USAir Inc. was just a board member at H&R Block. Then the top spot at Block opened up, and Salizzoni took over as president and CEO. Now, he's got the same titles at CompuServe, the No.2 online service that's 80% owned by Block.

The CompuServe job opened up when 51-year-old Robert Massey abruptly resigned after less than two years in the spot. Officially, Massey stepped down "to pursue other interests." But he and Salizzoni clashed over Compu-

Serve's turnaround plan, sources close to the company say. Massey wanted to spend big to stop losing ground to No.1 America Online. Salizzoni preferred returning CompuServe to profitability by pursuing more modest growth.

Salizzoni says Block still plans to sell its CompuServe stake once the service's fortunes improve. That could be tough considering the slide in the shares from a high of 38 last year to 10 1/2 on Feb. 19. It would also help to find a permanent CEO so he can shed his latest title.By Peter Elstrom and Peter Galuszka EDITED BY BILL JAVETSKIReturn to top

VENTURE CAPITAL'S OPEN POCKETS

MAKE NO MISTAKE: VENTURE capital isn't a cottage industry anymore. A record $9.5 billion was invested in some 2,000 companies in 1996--$2 billion more than in 1995, according to a survey released Feb. 21 by Price Waterhouse. Not surprisingly, there was a sixfold increase from 1995 in money going to Internet-related companies. Silicon Valley, which invested $571 million in 153 companies, remains the venture-capital mecca. But eight other U.S. regions poured more than $100 million each into new businesses. Still, Price Waterhouse warns that the feverish pace can't be kept up. "The rate of growth is going to be leveling off," says Kirk Walden, director of the survey.EDITED BY BILL JAVETSKIReturn to top

DOES ONE BIG THRIFT DESERVE ANOTHER?

IS H.F. AHMANSON A BANK trapped in a thrift's body? That would explain why Ahmanson, the largest U.S. thrift, made a surprise $6 billion hostile bid for its Los Angeles neighbor, Great Western Financial, the nation's second-largest. If the deal goes through as expected, the superthrift will have a portfolio of $92 billion in assets, most of them in commodity mortgage loans. Its consumer banking business would be as big as that of California's third-largest bank, Union Bank. Ahmanson figures it can show a nice profit gain by chopping $400 million from costs after the merger. That would make it one of the few thrifts capable of long-term survival.EDITED BY BILL JAVETSKIReturn to top

MARRIOTT: SHOPPING IN HONG KONG

THE VACANCY SIGN AT HONG Kong-based Renaissance Hotels International came down as Marriott International outbid three other companies for the 150-hotel chain. The bill: $947 million. The bid is the latest in a rapid industry consolidation--especially among full-service hotels. Hilton Hotels is pressing its $10.5 billion hostile bid for Sheraton parent ITT. Other acquisitions are likely: Marriott is said to be looking at other properties, while chains such as Westin may be on the block.EDITED BY BILL JAVETSKIReturn to top


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