Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World of Business

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

World of Business

Article excerpt

INVESTMENT FIRMS JOIN ATTACK ON DAIMLERCHRYSLER

Investment firms joined the shareholder siege of DaimlerChrysler yesterday, with Standard & Poor's and J.P. Morgan & Co. downgrading the embattled automaker's stock as it struggles to recover from heavy losses at its U.S.-based Chrysler division.

Standard & Poor's, which measures the risk of buying corporate bonds, cut DaimlerChrysler's long-term credit rating. It said the company's minivans, sport utility vehicles and pickups -- long the mainstay of its business -- are coming under increasing attack from competitors.

The agency also slammed the 1998 union between Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG and forecast that Chrysler's losses would put a significant hole in the group's earnings and cash flow.

Rating the company's outlook "negative," Standards & Poor's said "few noticeable benefits have been derived from the merger."

The downgrade comes on the heels of a similar move Friday by Moody's Investors Service, which said Chrysler's operating earnings will come in far below those of last year.

NEWSPRINT PRICE HIKE EXPECTED IN MARCH

North America's largest newsprint manufacturer plans to raise its prices by $50 a metric ton on March 1, the fourth hike since last fall.

Newsprint maker Abitibi-Consolidated Inc. began informing newspaper publishers of the increase late last week, a spokesman said yesterday.

A spokesman for Bowater Inc., which together with Abitibi controls about half of the newsprint market in the U.S. and Canada, would not comment on reports that the Greenville, S.C.-based firm is making a similar move.

If the 8 percent hike occurs, newsprint costs would rise from about $610 to about $660 per metric ton.

OXYGEN GETS $100 M FROM PAUL ALLEN

Oxygen Media said yesterday it had received an additional investment of $100 million from Vulcan Ventures, the investment company controlled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and one of Oxygen's early backers. …

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