With her company's June 11 bankruptcy filing, Warnaco Group (WAC) Chief Linda Wachner gets a break from servicing $3.1 billion in debt and other liabilities. But many wonder if Wachner herself can survive at the helm. The famously blunt apparel exec, whose company markets such brands as Calvin Klein, Speedo, and Warner's, has overseen a collapse of the company's shares from $44 in July, 1998, to just 39 cents now. Even though Wachner holds a 22% stake in Warnaco, her bankers currently have financial control and may not favor someone who led such a devastating decline. One obstacle to ousting Wachner is a severance package that could cost the company more than $15 million to let her go. Turnaround specialist Tony Alvarez, who is Warnaco's new chief restructuring officer, dismisses speculation and notes that Wachner is leading the charge. But Peter Chapman of Bankruptcy Creditors' Service predicts "a 90% probability that there will be a new CEO." At the very least, Warnaco no longer looks like a one-woman show. WorldCom (WCOM) couldn't have picked a better time to issue its new tracking stock for its consumer long-distance business. After years of decline, long-distance prices are stabilizing--if only momentarily. The leveling out of prices has prompted some analysts to recommend buying the MCI Group tracker, which opened June 8 at $18.01 and closed at $24.50 five days later. The stock's $2.40-a-year dividend doesn't hurt either. "Flat revenue growth is good enough with such a dividend," says Drake Johnstone, analyst with Davenport & Co. in Richmond, Va.. But don't get too comfortable holding the MCI tracker. The long-distance unit could run into trouble again when the Baby Bells start entering the business in earnest, which is expected by yearend. Federal regulators have lifted their red flag on big railroad mergers after a 15-month moratorium. Still, a rush of deals isn't expected anytime soon. The reason: After a series of takeovers in the 1990s, there are only four major railways left in the U.S. In ending its merger ban, the Surface Transportation Board issued new rules aimed at averting the snags that followed many previous deals. Railroads must now give their word in writing that a merger would not disrupt service. Kraft's first big day on Wall Street was as bland as a block of Velveeta. The nation's largest food company started trading June 13 on the New York Stock Exchange at $31.50, above the offering price of $31, and ended the day down 25 cents. Kraft raised $8.68 billion in the initial public offering, the second-largest ever after last year's AT&T Wireless Group (AWE) offering. The proceeds will be used to repay Philip Morris (MO) for the December, 2000, acquisition of Nabisco. Despite the IPO, it will hardly be independent. Philip Morris, Kraft's parent, will retain 84% of the company. Reliance group holding's (RELH) June 12 bankruptcy filing may set the stage for a battle of the uber-financiers. After all, the insurance company was controlled by Saul Steinberg, who first gained notoriety for trying to take over Chemical Bank in 1969. Although Reliance says most of its bankers and bondholders have agreed to the terms of its Chapter 11 filing, one dissenter stands out: fellow corporate raider Carl Icahn, who made runs on TWA and Texaco in the 1980s. Icahn started buying up Reliance debt in November and now controls a sizable portion of the company's bonds. Hughes Electronics (GMH) found itself in the unusual position of having its stock price slip in the middle of an auction for the company. Hughes shares dropped 12%, to $19.90, on June 12, the day after it announced that its
DirecTV satellite service will have sharply lower subscriber growth this year. The bad news comes as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS) continues to negotiate a $40 billion merger with Hughes. EchoStar (DISH) is also expected to make an offer and has lined up investment bankers Warburg and Morgan Stanley to lend it some of the $6 billion in cash that General Motors (GM) wants in exchange for its 30% Hughes stake. Hughes shares traded as high as $27.71 in February when word of Murdoch's interest first surfaced. On June 13, the stock closed at $20.95. -- Standard & Poor's downgraded Lucent Technologies (LU) debt to a "junk" rating.
-- Bausch & Lomb (BOL) expects second-quarter earnings to fall below expectations.
-- Boeing (BA) named airlines American (AMR), United (UAL), and Delta (DAL) as partners for its inflight Web service. Despite unveiling new instant printing technology, Polaroid's (PRD) stock has sunk nearly 40% in the past two weeks. Investors with little faith that it would help quickly were right: On June 13, Polaroid said second-quarter operating losses would be about 85 cents a share, well above the 7 cents forecast. That's why Wall Street reacted favorably when Polaroid also announced its second round of layoffs this year. The stock closed up 6%, at $3.73.