It may have been Michael Kopper who pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges on Aug. 21, but it's his erstwhile boss, former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, who's in the crosshairs now. As part of Kopper's agreement, the Justice Dept. hopes to seize more than $23 million from people who profited from Kopper's deals. The majority of these assets belong to Fastow and his family. They include multiple bank accounts and an 11,493-square-foot spread under construction in Houston's swank River Oaks neighborhood. Others whose assets are targeted include former Enron (ENRNQ) treasurer Ben Glisan, former counsel Kristina Mordaunt, and former finance employee Anne Yeager.
Could criminal charges against Fastow and others be next? The Justice Dept. is mum. But one senior official may have let something slip in an Aug. 21 briefing. "When we are ready to bring charges against others," he began before quickly correcting himself: "If and when we are ready" After years of negotiations, AOL Time Warner (AOL) has struck a deal to regain full control of its cable systems, Warner Bros. studio, and Home Box Office cable-TV network from AT&T (T) in exchange for $3.6 billion in cash and AOL stock, and a 21% stake in Time Warner's cable operation. The businesses swapped made up Time Warner Entertainment, a complex partnership with AT&T that goes back 10 years. The deal is a precursor to the eventual public offering of Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest operator with 10.8 million subscribers. The unraveling of TWE was also negotiated by executives of cable operator Comcast (CMCSK), expected to complete its purchase of AT&T's cable systems by the end of the year. The 21% stake in Time Warner Cable that Comcast will control is estimated to be worth more than $5 billion. Tyco International's directors are split over a proposal to resign en masse. A group of directors led by British businessman Michael Ashcroft has proposed that all nine directors who oversaw former chairman Dennis Kozlowski quit to clear the desks for Tyco's (TYC) new chairman, Edward Breen, sources say. Some directors are balking, citing the need for continuity. Breen isn't talking, but he's under shareholder pressure to support Ashcroft. If directors do not decamp before the company's March annual meeting, some shareholders are threatening to try to force them out through a proxy vote. Congress is turning up the heat on ImClone Systems' former CEO, Samuel Waksal. On Aug. 19, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which has been probing Waksal's sales of ImClone (IMCL) shares, asked the company for documents concerning his expenses, offshore bank accounts, and phone calls. A committee spokesman said there was "strong evidence" that Waksal lied to committee investigators on Apr. 19. The panel is likely to ask the Justice Dept. to consider charging Waksal with obstructing a congressional inquiry. He has already been indicted on insider-trading, bank fraud, and other charges. In a move that's been anticipated for weeks, Barry Diller is negotiating to win control of the Universal Studios (V) film and music company from French parent Vivendi Universal (V). Sources say that Diller has been talking with John Malone's Liberty Media (L), which owns 4% of Vivendi Universal. One deal envisioned calls for Liberty to swap its 4% interest along with its stake in the Discovery Channel and its Starz Encore pay-TV service for up to a 40% stake in the new unit. Diller would remain as non-executive chairman of Universal while continuing to run USA Interactive (USAI). Vivendi will retain a large stake in the company and could sell shares to pay down debt. Investment firms Carlyle Group and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe agreed to buy Qwest Communications International's Yellow Pages (Q) for $7 billion in the largest leveraged buyout since RJR Nabisco (MO) in 1989. Bankruptcy rumors had been swirling since Qwest's new management lowered its 2002 earnings forecast on Aug. 8. Now, Lehman Brothers (LEH) analyst Blake Bath has declared Qwest's (Q) liquidity crisis over even though proceeds from the deal will be staggered. The buyers agreed to close the deals in two stages to satisfy states requiring regulatory approval. The arrangement prevents Qwest from collecting more than half of the money until 2003. -- CalPERS named Robert D. Walton interim CEO of the largest U.S. pension fund.
-- Cendant (CD) agreed to buy car-rental agency Budget Group (BDGPA) out of bankruptcy.
-- A federal judge ruled GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) could not advertise Paxil as "non-habit forming." Shares of RadioShack (RSH) fell nearly 16.37% on Aug. 21, to $24.21, after the Fort Worth company lowered its third-quarter earnings outlook. Despite a 2% sales increase in July, the electronics retailer said August sales have "deteriorated dramatically," an ominous sign for back-to-school tech shopping.