- - Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NEW YORK — The euro plunged to its lowest level in nearly two years as investors fretted that European leaders won’t be able to prevent Greece from making a messy exit from the region’s shared currency.

The euro fell as low as $1.2562, the lowest since July 7, 2010. It was worth $1.2720 late Tuesday. The euro has come down sharply against the dollar since August, when it was worth $1.45.

European leaders were meeting Wednesday to find a way to keep Europe’s debt crisis from spiraling out of control. They haven’t announced any concrete plans.

The likelihood of Greece leaving the euro has been growing since early May, when parties opposed to the terms of the country’s financial rescue won at the polls. New elections are planned for next month.


Kraft shareholders give ‘Mondelez’ thumbs up

NEW YORK — Kraft Foods Inc. says shareholders approved the name “Mondelez” for its new global snack food business, which may put to rest the snickering that initially greeted the name.

The Northfield, Ill.-based company said Wednesday the name was approved by more than 90 percent of shareholders who cast a vote.

The name - pronounced “mon-dah-LEEZ” - will take effect when the company officially splits into two publicly traded companies later this year. Mondelez International Inc. will be home to global brands including Oreo, Cadbury and Nabisco.

The North American grocery business will continue to carry the name Kraft and include Velveeta, Miracle Whip and Oscar Mayer.

Kraft on Wednesday also unveiled the logo for Mondelez, which is the name in a custom-made purple font with red accents on either side.

When the name was first unveiled in March, Kraft carefully explained that it was an amalgamation of the Latin word for “world” and an interpretation of the word “delicious.” It nevertheless became a punch line in the media, with the New York Post headline reading “MONDEWHAAAAT?” and Crain’s Chicago Business suggesting it bore resemblance to a Russian term for a sexual act.

Despite the mockery, Mondelez was the result of a four-month process that started in November when Kraft held an in-house contest to name the new company.

The top candidates from a list of 1,700 entries were vetted with consumers in 28 different languages to ensure they didn’t have any negative connotations.


Police investigating $158M Reebok fraud

MUMBAI — Germany’s Adidas Group said Wednesday that Indian police are investigating two former executives from its Reebok India unit for an alleged fraud that could cost the company tens of millions of dollars.

Adidas spokesman Jan Runau said the executives under investigation are Shubhinder Singh Prem, former managing director, and Vishnu Bhagat, former chief operating officer. They both left Reebok India in March.

A police report says the pair filled four warehouses with stolen merchandise, falsifying bills and siphoning off goods to fake companies and distributors for years, local media reported. Mr. Prem has denied the allegations and is suing Reebok for damages, according to local media.

Reports of the financial impact of the alleged fraud varied widely. The Press Trust of India reported that the fraud resulted in a loss of $232 million, while the Times of India and the Hindustan Times pegged it at $1.6 billion.

Mr. Runau said those numbers were “pure speculation.”

He said the company stood by its April 30 disclosure that irregularities in the India business could cost up to $158 million, with related restructuring charges of up to $88 million.


Stewart a non-executive chairman of company

NEW YORK — Martha Stewart was named as non-executive chairman of the lifestyle, media and merchandising company that she created Wednesday.

Ms. Stewart rejoined the board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. in September at the end of a five-year ban on serving as a board member or as an executive of a public company as part of a settlement with federal regulators related to insider trading.

“I look forward to working closely with our directors and our management team as we focus on the future, capitalizing on the strength of our brand and our amazing customer connection to continue building our business so that it realizes its full and considerable potential,” Ms. Stewart said.

Ms. Stewart was convicted in 2004 on federal criminal charges of lying to prosecutors about selling ImClone shares a day before the Food and Drug Administration announced it declined to review an ImClone application for a cancer drug. She served five months in prison.

In 2006, the Securities Exchange Commission agreed to settle a related civil case against Ms. Stewart. Under the agreement, Ms. Stewart agreed to pay about $58,000 as well as a civil penalty of about three times the loss she avoided, or about $137,000. She also agreed to a five-year ban from serving on the board or as an officer of a public company

Ms. Stewart succeeds Charles Koppelman as non-executive chairman.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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