Sun, Jul 17, 2005 - Page 11 News List

World Business Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ Insurance
Data-loss policy launched

Hitachi Ltd and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc developed an insurance policy for companies wanting to shield themselves from damages due to losses of personal data, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported. Hitachi and Sompo Japan will offer a package, which includes the costs of press meetings to announce details, restoring lost data, repairing damage caused by viruses and compensation paid to individuals and companies, the paper said without saying where it obtained the information. The companies aim to sign contracts with more than 100 companies in the next 12 months, the paper said. They will announce the new package on Tuesday, the paper said. Schemes to steal personal information have become more frequent and sophisticated, prompting Japanese companies to look for ways to improve protection of customers.

■ Media

News Corp forms Web unit

News Corp, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, is launching a new unit grouping together the Internet properties owned by its Fox entertainment, news and sports businesses. The new unit, to be called Fox Interactive Media, will be headed by Ross Levinsohn, formerly chief of Fox's online sports business. In addition to sports, the group will also oversee the online operations of the Fox television network, cable TV's Fox News Channel and the Web sites of Fox's local TV stations. The division will coordinate back-office functions such as advertising sales across the Web sites, and also make it easier for browsers to move from one Fox-owned site to another, personalize what they see and get access to a greater variety of content such as video.

■ Appliances

Maytag sets merger vote

Maytag Corp, the US appliance maker that's the subject of a bidding contest, said it expects a potential second bidder to complete its due diligence by July 22. China's Haier Group (海爾) and two buyout firms made a preliminary offer last month to buy the third-largest US appliance maker for US$1.28 billion, or US$16 a share, about a month after a group led by Ripplewood Holdings LLC offered US$1.12 billion, US$2 more per share. The Haier group said it needed to examine Maytag more closely before making a final offer. Maytag shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Ripplewood offer Aug. 19.

■ Energy industry

Enron to pay for gouging

Bankrupt energy company Enron Corp has agreed to pay US$47.5 million in cash in a settlement that could eventually top US$1.5 billion to resolve claims that it gouged California and other western states during the 2000-2001 energy crisis. The settlement will end claims of market manipulation and price gouging against the once high-flying Houston-based company, California Attorney-General Bill Lockyer said on Friday. The agreement requires approval by the bankruptcy court and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In addition to the cash payment, Enron will provide California with an unsecured claim for US$875 million in the energy company's bankruptcy proceedings. Oregon and Washington would be entitled to US$22.5 million each from that unsecured settlement. The settlement also calls for the company to pay a US$600 million penalty to the three states. The deal will allow California to "squeeze justice from this corporate turnip," Lockyer said.

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