Business briefcase: Aerospace companies abandon merger talks
LOS ANGELES – One month after announcing they were in blockbuster merger talks, Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. and BAE Systems PLC decided to terminate their discussions due to a political impasse.
Together, British-owned BAE and EADS, owned in part by the French, German and Spanish governments, would have annual sales totaling more than $94 billion, dwarfing current industry leader Boeing Co.’s $68.7 billion.
But in a joint statement, the companies said: “It has become clear that the interests of the parties’ government stakeholders cannot be adequately reconciled with each other or with the objectives that BAE Systems and EADS established for the merger.”
Regulators warning of counterfeit air bags
LOS ANGELES – Federal safety regulators are warning that counterfeit air bags are being installed by auto repair shops that might not deploy in an accident or alternately, could explode, sending metal shrapnel into the vehicle’s passenger cabin.
“We want consumers to be immediately aware of this problem and to review our safety information to see if their vehicle could be in need of inspection,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.
The fake air bags look nearly identical to certified, original-equipment parts, right down to bearing the insignia and branding of major automakers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The problem affects almost every major auto brand.
“Air bags save several thousands of lives annually. But they can’t save lives if they have not been repaired properly,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. “When an auto repairer installs a counterfeit air bag, consumers can be killed in a crash.”
Kodak asks permission to end certain benefits
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Eastman Kodak Co. said Wednesday it has asked a bankruptcy court judge to allow it to end retiree medical and some other benefits at the end of the year as part of its restructuring.
The company said it reached an agreement with the court-appointed committee of retirees to pay a total of $650 million in claims and $7.5 million in cash into a fund that could be used for future payments in exchange for eliminating its current $1.2 billion liability for medical, dental, life insurance and survivor income benefits.
A company spokesman said pensions would not be affected.
Coke stops making returnable bottles
NEW YORK – It’s the end of an era for Coca-Cola lovers, as the last 6.5-ounce returnable, glass bottle rolls off the production line.
A small Coke bottler in Minnesota says it’s stopping production of the bottles, which customers could return to get back a 20-cent deposit. The company in Winona, Minn., had been refilling the returnable bottles since 1932 but said it no longer makes business sense to continue doing so.
The Coca-Cola Co, based in Atlanta, notes that its 8-ounce glass bottles are still widely available across the country. Those recyclable bottles are nearly identical to the smaller 6.5-ounce bottles.
“They were made on an old line that would have to be completely replaced – they kept them going as long as they could,” said Susan Stribling, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman.