Senate vote kills Viacom planThe U.S. Senate...


Senate vote kills Viacom plan

The U.S. Senate approved by a voice vote yesterday legislation that effectively kills Viacom Inc.'s plans to sell its cable television systems to a black businessman for $2.3 billion.

Viacom has said it won't proceed with the cable sale to investor Frank Washington if Congress terminates a Federal Communications Commission program that provides tax breaks to firms that sell media properties to minority buyers. With the FCC certificate, Viacom would receive a tax break estimated between $440 million and $640 million.

The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference, where lawmakers will work out differences between the two chambers' bills. Both versions call for wiping out the FCC tax break.

Bell Atlantic charge expected

Bell Atlantic Corp. expects to take a first-quarter charge of about $18 million for its investment in Mexico's largest cellular-phone company because of the devaluation of the peso.

The first-quarter charge would follow a $19 million charge, or 4 cents a share, to reflect a 33 percent decline in the peso in the fourth quarter. That decline lowered the estimated value of Bell Atlantic's 42 percent stake in Grupo Iusacell.

So far in the first quarter, the peso has declined about 26 percent.

Boeing offers early retirement

Boeing Co. said yesterday it offered a retirement-incentive plan to 13,000 workers and told another 5,000 they might be laid off in two months.

The number of layoffs could be reduced, depending on the number of people who accept the early retirement offer, the company said.

Seattle-based Boeing said it expects about half of the 13,000 employees to take early retirement, which would result in a pretax charge of $350 million to $400 million in the second quarter.

Boeing has cut tens of thousands of jobs and pared costs in the past two years as business has dropped.

Time Warner to sell Atari stake

Time Warner Inc. said yesterday it plans to sell some or all of its 24.5 percent stake in video game maker Atari Corp. as part of its plan to raise $2 billion to $3 billion. At current prices, the stake is worth $42.9 million.

Kmart stores to be open Easter

Kmart Corp. will break a 33-year tradition by opening its 2,316 domestic discount stores on Easter Sunday for the first time, the discount retailer said yesterday.

Kmart has been struggling to halt the erosion of its market share by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other competitors. Its chief executive, Joseph Antonini, resigned Tuesday under pressure from large shareholders.


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