World business quick take

Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 12


Windows has major flaw

Microsoft Corp, whose software runs more than nine of every 10 personal computers, said a flaw discovered in its Windows XP operating system could let an attacker gain control of a computer. The vulnerability, considered "critical" by Microsoft, could allow intruders to create files, delete data and make other changes to a computer running Windows XP. Microsoft said users can download software from its Web site that will correct the vulnerability. The vulnerability was discovered and reported to Microsoft by Foundstone Research Labs. Microsoft has issued more than 70 security bulletins this year outlining potential problems with its software.

Video outlets

Blockbuster cuts forecast

Blockbuster Inc cut its 2002 profit estimate by at least 16 percent, saying competition from discount stores had crimped fourth-quarter sales at the largest movie-rental chain. The stock plunged a record 32 percent. Per-share profit this year will be US$1.03 to US$1.10 on sales of more than US$5.5 billion, Blockbuster said in a statement. Last month, the Dallas-based company predicted that profit before some expenses would rise to US$1.31 a share from US$1.01 last year. Higher sales of movies on digital video discs at rival retailers pinched Blockbuster's rental revenue. The company redesigned its more than 4,400 US stores last month in a bid to win a bigger share of the US$8.4 billion retail market for DVDs, rather than relying on rentals. The overhaul failed to fend off the competition.

Food industry

Dole chairman to buy firm

Dole Foods Chairman David H. Murdock has agreed to buy all of the outstanding shares of the giant food company he does not already own, and take it private in a US$2.5 billion deal. Murdock will pay US$33.50 per share for the approximately 76 percent of the company's outstanding common stock, Dole said in a statement released Wednesday. That is US$4 a share more than the price the self-made billionaire offered in September, when he first proposed to take the world's largest producer of fresh foods and produce private. "I believe the company can be better managed as a private company," Murdock told the Ventura County Star in a telephone interview shortly before the deal was announced. "I'm buying it, so I don't think it's a bad deal, but it's not a steal at this price," he added.


Arabs face high joblessness

The economic picture of the Arab world is bleak, with unemployment reaching as high as 20 percent of the combined work force, an Arab League meeting heard Wednesday. "The Arab economic yield does not correspond with the people's needs," the secretary general of the Council of Arab Economic Unity, Ahmed Goweili, told ministers of trade, finance and economy of the 10 league members represented on the council. Goweili said the gross national product of the Arab world stood at US$712 billion last year, a figure that represents only 2 percent of the world gross product. It shows that Arab economies make a very limited contribution to the world economy. "In the year 2001, unemployment sharply increased, especially among young and educated people, to reach 20 percent of the work force," Goweili said.