Business & Finance
Wal-Mart Stores announced aggressive expansion plans for fiscal 2005 that call for at least 240 new supercenters. It said 160 of them would involve relocating or expanding existing stores. The world's largest retailer also said it would open or expand up to 45 of its regular stores, would add 30 to 40 Sam's Club warehouse stores, and would open 155 to 165 outlets overseas, also including relocations and expansions.
Beleaguered US Airways said it will cut the pay and benefits of roughly 3,700 management-level employees. The plan, which also will include hundreds of layoffs, is expected to save the carrier another $45 million. Last month, US Airways filed for bankruptcy for the second time in two years. It resumed negotiations this week with unionized employees over $950 million in annual cost cuts,
Diageo Ltd., the world's largest distiller of alcoholic beverages, sold more than half its stake in General Mills for $2.26 billion - Step One in a process that will result in a complete divestment of the US cereal manufacturer by next October. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that General Mills repurchased much of the stock itself, using the proceeds from an $835 million sale of shares to Lehman Brothers, the investment bank. Diageo is based in London.
In a further consolidation of the global real-estate industry, Camden Property Trust announced it will pay $1.9 billion for Summit Property Trust of Charlotte, N.C. The amount includes assumption of debt. Camden is based in Houston. The deal is at least the industry's ninth in the billion-dollar range since May.
Mining giant BHP Billiton said it will buy back $1.1 billion of its stock under a promise to return some of its soaring profits to investors. The joint British-Australian company maintains two headquarters: London and Melbourne.
Another 870 jobs - all of them in film and photographic paper manufacuring - will be cut by Eastman Kodak, the company announced. Kodak, which is shifting focus to digital photo technology, said the layoffs would affect its facilities in Britain and France. It previously announced layoffs in the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and China.