- - Monday, April 18, 2011


Dollar rises vs. euro on European debt fears

NEW YORK | The dollar rose against the euro Monday on speculation that Greece will have to restructure its debt.

The U.S. currency also advanced against the British pound, Swiss franc and Canadian dollar even as the ratings agency Standard & Poor’s lowered its outlook for U.S. sovereign debt. It lost ground against the Japanese yen, however.

Greece’s central bank governor said a debt restructuring would have “disastrous consequences” for the nation’s access to credit and that the move would be “unnecessary and undesirable.”

The euro fell to $1.4236 in afternoon trading Monday from $1.4436 late Friday.


Burger King settles franchisee lawsuit

MIAMI | Burger King’s new owners have a long to-do list as they try to remake the struggling hamburger chain. On Monday, they crossed off one chore: Making nice with disenfranchised franchisees.

The company and its franchisees announced they would settle a legal battle they’ve been fighting since 2009, when the corporation told restaurant operators to sell the double cheeseburger for $1. The franchisees sued, saying they couldn’t make money at that price.

The settlement comes six months after Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital bought Burger King for $4 billion. Since then, 3G has shaken up management, laid off workers and trimmed other costs, and set plans in motion to expand in Asia and Latin America.

The franchisees are not getting any money in the settlement. The double cheeseburger remains on the Value Menu, but at $1.29, where it’s been for a year. At the time of the lawsuit’s filing, the burger cost franchisees about $1.10.

But the franchisees will get more power in future decisions about what goes on the Value Menu, according to the company and the National Franchisee Association, which represents the independent restaurant owners and filed the lawsuit.


Community Health makes all-cash bid for rival

NEW YORK | Hospital operator Community Health Systems Inc. on Monday revised its $3 billion offer for rival Tenet Healthcare Corp. to an all-cash bid.

Community Health is now offering $6 per share in cash. In December, it had gone public with a bid of $5 per share in cash and $1 per share in stock. At the time, the offer was a premium of about 40 percent to the Dallas company’s shares.

But Tenet’s board rejected that offer, and adopted a “poison pill” measure to fend off the bid.

Tenet’s shares have recently been trading above $6.

But the company said Monday it will review the revised offer and make a recommendation. It said shareholders should take no action for now.

Tenet shares fell 26 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $6.40 in afternoon trading while Community Health shares dropped $1.74, or 5.5 percent, to $30.16 after falling as much as 14.3 percent earlier in the session.

Community Health Systems runs 130 hospitals in 29 states and focuses on fast-growing and non-urban markets. Tenet runs 50 hospitals spread across 11 states, and most of its facilities are in urban and suburban communities.


GM to raise prices owing to oil, metal costs

DETROIT | General Motors Co. says it will raise prices by an average of $123 per vehicle to make up for higher oil and metal costs.

The company says the increase will go into effect in the U.S. starting May 2.

Spokesman Tom Henderson says the increase affects nearly all Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac models. He says oil prices played a big role in the increase, as did steel and other metal costs.

Oil prices affect the cost of plastic parts and tires, as well as filling cars with gas before they are sold.

GM is not alone in raising prices. Toyota Motor Corp. said last month it would raise prices on most 2011 Toyota, Scion and Lexus models between 1.2 percent and 2.2 percent.


CEO of candy maker dies in South Africa

ROME | Pietro Ferrero, the CEO of the Ferrero Group holding company, which produces Nutella, Tic Tac mints and other confections, and a scion of one of Italy’s richest families, died on Monday after falling from a bicycle while on a business trip in South Africa. He was 47.

Pietro Ferrero was also chairman of Ferrero S.p.A., the Italian branch of the family-run company and the heart of the candy and sweets maker’s empire.

The company’s press office at headquarters in Alba, northwestern Italy, said Mr. Ferrero, a cycling enthusiast, was riding a bike on his usual training run on a road in Cape Town when he fell off. It said it wasn’t clear what prompted the fall.

With him on the business trip was his father, Michele Ferrero, who turned the company into an international sweets producer and invented successes including Nutella and Kinder in the 1960s and helped make the Ferreros a billionaire family that is now Italy’s richest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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