"What little we do know [about hedge funds], at least to me, has alarm bells ringing." -- SEC Commissioner Harvey Goldschmid on the move to regulate hedge funds
For months, Toshiba (TOSBF) and Sony (SNE) have battled over the next generation of DVD. Now Toshiba may score an early victory, BusinessWeek has learned. Warner Bros (TWX)., Universal, and Paramount (VIA) are expected to announce soon that they'll release movies on Toshiba's high-definition DVD format by late 2005. It's not an exclusive deal, but it would be a severe blow to the Sony-backed format, Blu-ray.
Hollywood movies are seen as crucial in enticing consumers to replace old DVD players with new high-def ones. The studios and Sony declined to comment. Toshiba acknowledges a "positive response from several studios," declining further comment.
Both formats provide sharper pictures and vastly increased storage space. But Blu-ray DVD production requires new plants and equipment, so it's initially costlier than the Toshiba version, which mostly uses existing DVD technology.
Sony, which is pushing Blu-Ray with other computer and electronics companies, can count on its own film studios and MGM (MGM), which a Sony-led consortium is buying. But a format war isn't great for Sony: In a 1990 fight with Toshiba, Sony failed to get most of its technology into the current DVD. And remember Sony's Betamax in the '80s?
As part of Larry Summers' grand plan to reshape Harvard University for the 21th century, the president wants to create a school of engineering with the same status as its prestigious business and law schools. "Technology is so central...[to] what's shaping our world today," he says.
That would be a big change for Harvard, where engineering has been something of an academic backwater. But at the division of engineering and applied sciences (DEAS), for now part of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, plans are being developed to nearly double the number of full-time-equivalent faculty to 100. That would be on par with top engineering programs at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology, though far smaller than neighbor Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rather than all-encompassing, a Harvard engineering school would focus on "the cutting edge in certain disciplines," says DEAS Dean Venkatesh Narayanamurti. Among them: information technology, bioengineering, and nanotechnology. Summers says the new school would likely be based across the Charles River near the B-school campus: "There is an enormous two-way fertilization there," he says. A plan could be ready in months.
With their companies under regulatory scrutiny, the Greenbergs have seen the value of their equity stakes take a dive:
EVAN GREENBERG, President and CEO, Ace Ltd.: -$571,000
HANK GREENBERG, Chairman and CEO, American International Group: -$303 million
JEFF GREENBERG, Ex-Chairman and CEO, Marsh & McLennan Cos.: -$13 million
Based on stock prices at market close, Oct. 13, to market close, Oct. 27
Data: Bloomberg Financial Markets
Dell's (DELL) relentless efficiency has forced most rivals to move manufacturing jobs overseas just to keep pace. But now the king of all PC makers is using its clout to wrangle tax breaks to expand its operations at home.
On Oct. 19, Dell CEO Kevin Rollins told CNET.com (CNET) he expects to announce plans in the next several weeks for a new U.S. factory that will assemble PCs and other products for customers in North America. The leading contender: North Carolina, which is hoping the plant's 1,900 jobs, mostly paying around $12 an hour, will offset job losses in the tobacco, textile, and furniture industries. State and local officials are said to be mulling tax breaks and incentives worth more than $100 million. Rollins won't discuss specifics, but says the reports are "more accurate than not."
Dell is getting a lot of financial aid from communities desperate for new jobs and tax revenue. Officials in Oklahoma are hammering out incentives for Dell to build a call center, which could include a 60-acre swath of riverfront property in Oklahoma City. And on Oct. 11, Dell won $8 million in incentives for a distribution center in West Chester, Ohio. Not a bad deal for either side, so long as Dell keeps on dominating.
Some business tiffs still get set-tled the old-fashioned way. Kayak suppliers Harmony and Werner Paddles came to a recent trade show each introducing a new paddle called Cascadia. "People asked: Are you going to fight it out?" says Joe Pulliam, a vice-president at Harmony's parent, WaterMark Sports. Not quite. He challenged Werner President Bruce Furrer to a paddle-off. Two kayaks were tied together in a demo pool. After some fierce paddling, Furrer dragged Pulliam to one end. A gracious victor, Furrer says: "It's really nice to talk, instead of the first call being to the lawyer." Harmony renamed its paddle Tortuga, without a court battle.
France and the U.S. may disagree on many things, but making money isn't one of them. The U.S. continues to be the biggest foreign investor in the French economy. During the first half of 2004, U.S. investment in France hit nearly $4.5 billion, up from $1.5 billion in all of 2003, according to A.T. Kearney's annual survey of foreign investment.
The cash infusion was responsible for nearly a fourth of the French jobs related to foreign investment. That je ne sais quoi in the French economy? It's money from the U.S.
Durk Jager resigned under pressure as Procter & Gamble's (PG) CEO in 2000 amid criticism that he launched too many new products too fast. One such product, Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash, was canned by successor A.G. Lafley. Now Jager, 61, is reviving Fit, which removes contaminants that water alone does not. He's an investor and adviser to HealthPro Brands, a Cincin-nati startup formed in 2003 to market Fit.
Jager, who sits on four boards, including Eastman Kodak (EK) and Chiquita Brands International, says Fit's prospects are better now that it's the sole focus of one company and is in a dozen national and regional supermarkets and 200 independents. "Sometimes you're before your time," he says, noting that awareness of food contaminants has grown.
Jager denies any sentimental attachment to Fit given its P&G history: "I don't spend money on things that are emotional." But no doubt he would like to prove P&G wrong.
The New York Yankees may have suffered a humiliating collapse in the American League Championship Series, becoming the first baseball team to blow a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. But the team hasn't lost its formidable financial advantage over the victorious Boston Red Sox and every other team. Owner George Steinbrenner is preparing to increase the Yankees' lead by building a new ballpark, with a big assist from baseball's other clubs.
Currently, the Yankees -- with the biggest revenues and the biggest payroll of all Major League Baseball clubs -- chip in about $60 million a year to a revenue-sharing pool for poorer franchises. But per MLB rules, the Yankees will be allowed to deduct their entire cost to construct a new stadium in the Bronx -- estimated at $700 million of private funding -- from their local revenues, where the revenue-sharing money comes from. Since baseball requires teams to share 34% to 38% of their local revenues each year, that means the Yankees could save some $250 million in revenue-sharing over a decade.
Plus, the increased concessions, sponsorships, and luxury seating the new stadium will bring will boost the Yankees' yearly stadium revenues by at least 25%, says Marc Ganis, President of SportsCorp, a sports-industry consulting firm in Chicago. The new park -- final plans for which are expected by yearend -- will only help cement the Yankees' status as baseball's richest club when it opens later this decade. Meanwhile, the rival Red Sox, MLB's second-richest, are stuck trying to wring out more cash by updating Fenway Park, the oldest and smallest in the league.
Of course, as the Yankees have just proved, money can't buy a championship. But it boosts the odds that the club will continue qualifying for the postseason, as they have for 10 straight seasons. For Yankees fans, it's something nice to think about during what will surely be a long winter.
Shareholder activists say it's almost impossible to get rid of bad directors. Maybe not. New research from University of Chicago accounting professor Suraj Srinivasan suggests they may pay a price for messing up.
He studied 304 companies that restated earnings from 1997 to 2000. At the 201 that revised earnings downward, half of the outside directors left in three years. Far fewer left at the 103 that made upward or technical revisions.
Critics say Srinivasan's findings don't apply to transgressions such as excessive pay and that many factors affect board turnover.
Srinivasan says restatements exact a "reputational penalty" on directors. Still, only half ultimately left their boards. That means half are still around.