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In Business This Week: HEADLINER
BIG KING: CAN IT MAKE HASH OUT OF BIG MAC?
There's a new burger on the block. On Aug. 28, the Big King--Burger King's first new sandwich offering since it introduced the BK Broiler in 1990--went patty-to-patty against McDonald's Big Mac.
Burger King execs say that with 75% more beef and considerably less bread than the venerable Big Mac, the flame-broiled Big King is faring well in taste tests. "It is a winner and is looking to this head-to-head competition," says Jim Watkins, Burger King's senior vice-president of North America marketing, describing what he calls the sandwich's "personality."
Will the Big King cannibalize sales of Burger King's signature Whopper, which reached 1.6 billion burgers in '96? Burger King says no. But Burger King isn't on easy street yet: McDonald's is serving a new burger, dubbed Big & Tasty, with condiments similar to those on a Whopper, in select California markets. A McDonald's spokes- man says the company isn't cowed by Burger King's new threat. "There's only one Big Mac. It can't be duplicated," he says. May the battle of the burgers begin.By Gail DeGeorge in Miami EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
MORE SHOOTING IN CYBERSPACE
THE BOOK WARS ARE HEATING up. On Aug. 27, Book Stacks, an online bookselling division of direct-marketing giant CUC International, based in Stamford, Conn., announced that buyers who pay an annual fee can get 40% discounts on hardcover and 30% on paperback titles. CUC says it will make its money on membership fees--$29.95 a year for the book-buying club--so it can sell books at cost. Amazon.com, the top online bookseller, makes its money from the markup on each book and, CUC says, won't be able to match Book Stacks without sacrificing margins. Will the move let Book Stacks challenge Amazon? CUC doesn't release figures for its operating units, but industry analysts say Book Stacks is coming from far behind. Still, the new approach could help.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
A DRUG MERGER IS LOOKING SICK
WILL REGULATORS CLIP Cardinal Health's wings? The $11 billion drug wholesaler, the second-largest in the nation, announced on Aug. 25 it was buying rival Bergen Brunswig for $2.4 billion and the assumption of $386 million in debt. The move would make Cardinal No.1 in the field, ahead of McKesson. But now analysts are worried that the deal won't clear antitrust hurdles. The Federal Trade Commission this spring nixed a merger of Office Depot and Staples, two of the top three office-supply superstore chains. Expect a signal from the FTC within the next month.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
THE FTC IS PEERING INSIDE INTEL
A LITTLE TOO MUCH INTEL inside? That's what the Federal Trade Commission is asking. On Aug. 27 the agency asked Intel to provide it with information concerning Intel's proposed purchase of graphics chipmaker Chips & Technologies Inc. The $420 million deal, announced on July 27, would give Intel a sizable position in specialty-graphics chips--and, rivals charge, an edge in designing its own graphics technology into PCs. Rivals' complaints to the FTC may have triggered the probe. Intel says it will comply with the FTC request.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top