He may not be an expert in bra styles and bikinis, but Tony Alvarez knows how to turn a sick company around. He had better: Alvarez, 53, has replaced the bombastic Linda Wachner as CEO of bankrupt Warnaco (WAC). Before joining the apparel maker in May as chief restructuring officer, he helped revamp Resorts International and Charter Medical, among others. Alvarez blames Warnaco's problems on tough industry conditions and acquisition overload. "The speed of growth was maybe a bit much," he says. But Alvarez insists Warnaco has a stable of wonderful brands, including Calvin Klein jeans, Speedo swimwear, and Olga bras. Moreover, a rough job market should make it easy to recruit new talent. After all, Alvarez doesn't want to surround himself with lingerie forever. He plans to stick around long enough to see Warnaco through its reorganization, which could take anywhere from six to 18 months. His big challenges: mending industry relationships, energizing Warnaco's staff, and raising the company's status on Wall Street. It appears the initial-public-offering craze isn't dead after all. Magma Design Automation made a red-hot debut on Nov. 20 on the Nasdaq as investors starved for IPOs snapped up shares in the software company that helps design computer chips. The Cupertino, Calif., outfit trades under the ticker "LAVA" and is one of several specialty shops that help companies such as Infineon (IFX) and Texas Instruments (TXN) look for competitive advantage by speeding the time it takes to bring a new chip to market. Although it was expected to go public at a price ranging from $9 to $11, Magma sold 4.85 million shares at $13 each to raise $63 million in the offering led by Credit Suisse First Boston. The company then saw its stock soar 46% to $18.99 on its first full day of trading. Eight IPOs have raised $6 billion since September 11, with nine more on the docket through yearend. Things certainly are coming up roses for Microsoft (MSFT). First it settled with the Bush Administration on very lenient terms. Then, on Nov. 20, it announced plans to settle dozens of private antitrust suits. As part of the settlement, the company is to donate its software and reconditioned computers to 14,000 low-income schools. Microsoft is not totally out of the private-litigation woods, though. The most potent suit--a massive class action in California--is not part of the deal. And it's still possible that a rival like AOL (AOL) or Sun Microsystems (SUNW) could sue. But this is clearly good news for Microsoft. The settlement, legal experts say, reflects the poor prospects for these suits--which had to quantify the damage to consumers. Phillips Petroleum (P) and Conoco (COC) announced an all-stock merger on Nov. 18, but since Conoco is getting no premium for its stock, other bidders could emerge. If completed, the deal would create the sixth-largest oil company in the world, based on reserves, and one more competitive with such supermajors as ExxonMobil (XOM) and Royal Dutch/Shell (RD). Annual cost savings could hit $750 million in the first year after closing, a nice boost in the face of falling oil and gas prices. ConocoPhillips will be based in Houston, Conoco's hometown, but Phillips shareholders will own 56.6% of the new company. Analysts figure the deal will meet little resistance from regulators. The former head of fidelity Investments' brokerage operations is leaving the mutual-fund giant. Robert Mazzarella, 55, had played a key role in the growth of Fidelity's brokerage group since the early 1980s and helped launch its online brokerage business. But in March, he lost out when Kevin Kelley was named president of a newly formed Fidelity Brokerage Co. unit. Another executive, former AT&T (T) marketing star Gail McGovern, took over key roles in Fidelity's retail brokerage business. London-based P&O Princess Cruises (POC) and Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises announced on Nov. 20 they're merging to form the world's largest cruise company. The deal, which brings together Royal Caribbean, Princess, Celebrity and other cruise lines, will create a company with annual revenues of more than $5 billion. Cruise companies have been hurt by the decline in travel after September 11. But Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises and chairman and CEO-designate of the combined group, says that Royal Caribbean and Princess have been trying to merge since 1991 and that recent talks preceded the terrorist attacks. -- The Food & Drug Administration approved Pharmacia's (PHA) new arthritis drug, Bextra.
-- In a sign of industry consolidation, Exelixis will buy Genomica for about $110 million.
-- Philip Morris (MO) has proposed changing its name to Altria. Where's bottom for Enron (ENE)? The energy trader's stock fell 23%, to $7.01, on Nov. 20, the day after it disclosed the extent of its liquidity crisis in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing. Its most immediate concern: avoiding a $690 million debt payment that could be due by Nov. 27. Enron says talks with lenders have been "encouraging."