■ AutomakersMan sues over hot seat
A paraplegic man who suffered burns when the heated seat of his SUV malfunctioned is suing Daimler Chrysler Corp for US$14.1 million. Matt Beller, of Klamath Falls, Oregon, who filed the suit this week in US District Court in Eugene, said he was in his 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee when the temperature of the driver's seat climbed to more than 65 degrees Celsius last Feb. 20. Beller says he has no feeling below his chest because of military injuries and said he did not know he had been burned until the next day. He underwent skin graft surgery and had to lie on his stomach for three months, he said. Beller seeks US$10 million punitive damages, up to US$3 million for non-economic damages and up to US$1,150,000 for economic damages for past and future medical expenses.
MGM approves Sony deal
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer shareholders voted overwhelmingly on Friday to approve the film studio's sale to a Sony Corp-led consortium that includes cable television giant Comcast Corp. At a brief meeting in Century City, 99.8 percent of shares were voted in favor of the sale, company officials said after the vote. The sale, valued at nearly US$5 billion, is expected to close some time in the first half of next year, contingent on approval by regulatory agencies. Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian had already backed the deal, which is expected to net him about US$2.1 billion. At the meeting, MGM CEO Alex Yemenidjian stressed that MGM will continue to be based in Los Angeles, with Sony Pictures co-producing and distributing MGM's films. Comcast will also establish new cable television channels carrying Sony and MGM content.
HK pilots mull labor action
Pilots at Hong Kong's Dragon Airlines Ltd have threatened to launch a "work-to-rules" labor action ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in February because of a dispute over scheduling practices, a newspaper reported yesterday. The action means the pilots will refuse to work beyond the terms of their contracts, the South China Morning Post reported. A spokesman for the Dragonair Pilots' Association, whose name was not given, said they expected the action "will have an effect" on the busy schedule of the airline in the run-up to the holiday, the Post said. Dragonair spokeswoman Floran Lee said the company has not been informed about the pilots' planned action and could not confirm the report.
Fourth bidder enters auction
Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service said on Friday that a fourth bidder would be participating in today's auction of the embattled Yukos oil company's giant Siberian production unit. Pavel Melnikov, a spokesman for the antitrust agency, said that Baikalfinansgroup would also be participating in the auction for Yuganskneftegaz. First Venture Company and Interkom had earlier registered bids along with Gazpromneft, the fledgling oil division of natural gas giant Gazprom, which is widely expected to snap up the unit for close to its US$8.6 billion starting price. Yukos has disputed that starting price and promised to sue any buyer of Yuganskneftegaz. It is unclear who exactly the other three companies represent,, though many analysts have suggested that they could merely be running to ensure the auction has a number of participants, as required by law.