In Business This Week: HEADLINER: DONNA MOORE
A ZONE OF HER OWN
Donna Moore has her own playground--and it's a mess. As new president and CEO of Discovery Zone, she'll have free rein to clean up the company, which filed for bankruptcy on Mar. 25. The chain remains 49% owned by Viacom, though Viacom's chief, Sumner Redstone, and deputy chairman, Phillippe Dauman, left the board the day Moore got her job, giving her added freedom.
It won't be fun and games. She plans to close at least 30 of DZ's 300 stores. She will also spiff up the Spartan parent waiting rooms--adding muffins and cappuccino machines--modernize the game rooms, and update DZ's marketing. "A successful reorganization will address the problems caused by the company's rapid expansion and put DZ on a stronger financial footing," she said in a statement.
Before joining DZ in late 1994, Moore, 56, built Disney Stores from two locations to 150, and Williams-Sonoma from 17 to 80. She also helped revamp Laura Ashley's North American operations. Time will tell if playgrounds are easier to sell than flowered dresses.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLAND By David GreisingReturn to top
THE MOTHER OF ALL MALL MERGERS
THE MALL OF AMERICA IS about to grow. Simon Property Group, developer of the Bloomington (Minn.) mall, and DeBartolo on Mar. 26 announced a stock deal worth nearly $1.5 billion. A merged Simon and DeBartolo, the nation's two biggest shopping-mall developers, will have 111 regional malls, 66 community centers, and six specialty retail centers in 32 states. Simon Property's David Simon becomes CEO at the new company, to be based in his hometown of Indianapolis. Both companies went public in the last three years, but neither stock has done well in the depressed retail climate. DeBartolo will give Simon a stronger presence in the important Florida market. The new company could save $9 million in overhead.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
BANKS UNPLUG A POLICY LOOPHOLE
SCORE ONE FOR THE BANKS. On Mar. 26 the High Court ruled unanimously in favor of Barnett Banks, based in Jacksonville, Fla., deciding state regulators can't overrule a federal law allowing national banks to sell insurance in small towns. Bankers in many states have been using the loophole to sell insurance statewide--but Florida has a state law prohibiting insurance sales by banks. In the wake of the ruling, House Republicans are expected to amend a pending banking bill to allow linkups between banks and insurance companies.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
REFITTING THE FAA
THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADministration finally joins the space age. The FAA, long criticized as slow-moving, on Apr. 1 plans to unveil sweeping reforms to make it fleeter of foot. FAA Administrator David Hinson aims to save $200 million during the next three years through staff downsizing and efficiency moves, and by halving the time it takes to get new gear for air traffic control, weather tracking, and flight planning into the field. It's about time: The number of Americans traveling by air, now 512 million, is growing 4% annually.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top
BILL: FRIEND OF THE EMPLOYEE-FRIENDLY
PRESIDENT CLINTON IS ANXIOUS about economic anxiety. So on Apr. 10, he will host 60 corporations at a White House event designed to promote good corporate citizenship. On the event's agenda is an awards ceremony for 10 exemplary companies and a how-to on such issues as establishing pension plans in small companies. For now, Clinton is eschewing proposing tax incentives or penalties built around corporate behavior toward employees. But sources say that could change once the Democratic Party meets its campaign fund-raising goal of $123 million, most of it from corporate donors.EDITED BY KELLEY HOLLANDReturn to top