"Why does Tyco have to buy a house for every place they travel to?" --Manhattan Assistant DA Ann Donnelly, in closing arguments against executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz Comcast's hostile takeover may have helped Walt Disney's (DIS) stock price, but it hasn't done much for Michael Eisner's literary career. BusinessWeek has learned that Warner Books has quietly shelved for a year Eisner's autobiographical book Camp, which it had planned to publish in June.
Warner Books Chairman Laurence Kirshbaum says that Eisner, who is battling a shareholder revolt, "felt he couldn't do justice to promoting the book right now." The Disney CEO's reflections on his experience at Camp Keewaydin in Vermont was seen as a big-selling Father's Day gift. Warner publicity materials say "Eisner creates a touching and insightful portrait of his coming-of-age." He writes about learning teamwork by pitching tents and overcoming adversity by leading a lost group of campers through a blinding rainstorm to safety.
Eisner began work on Camp 18 months ago with the help of writer Aaron Cohen, says Kirshbaum. A Disney spokesman says proceeds from the book will go to charity.
Warner now says it will release the book in time for Father's Day 2005. That could give Warner time to see if shareholders force Eisner to resign. But Kirshbaum insists the book "stands on its own no matter what corporate politics may bring." Still, will readers want a cuddly book from someone thrown out of the Magic Kingdom? To prevent Boeing from moving production of its first all-new jetliner in a decade out of Washington State, the aerospace giant was given tax breaks last year worth $3.2 billion over 20 years. Who recommended the deal? It turns out the state paid the consulting division of Boeing's longtime auditor, Deloitte & Touche, $715,000 to study the issue. From 2001 to 2003, Deloitte & Touche and Deloitte Consulting earned $91 million in audit, tax, and consulting fees from Boeing, according to SEC documents filed on Mar. 12. The details of the Deloitte involvement became public in early March after the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, a local taxpayer watchdog group, won its suit to unseal the state's deal to keep production of the superefficient Boeing 7e7 in Washington. "If this isn't a conflict of interest, then what is?" says Jason Mercier of Evergreen.
State officials disagree. Robin Pollard, the state's project manager for the program, says the attorney general gave Deloitte the green light because it has a "separate business operation" from the audit side. Deloitte declined to comment. Boeing says there's no conflict because its dealings with Deloitte Consulting are winding down. As corporate rivalries go, one of the fiercest is between chipmakers Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). They've fought in the market -- and in the courts. But in the latest round of chip wars, there are no winners. At least that was the case on Mar. 13, when their respective entries in a 142-mile robot road race across the Mojave Desert came up short of the $1 million prize. Intel and AMD sponsored two of 15 entries in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Grand Challenge to create driverless vehicles.
AMD donated Opteron servers and an AMD64 chip for the brains of GhostRider, a dirt bike designed by a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley. Intel gave Itanium and Xeon chips to a Carnegie Mellon University team using a modified Hummer.
AMD execs got a kick out of seeing Intel's Sandstorm "turned upside down after a road test," says a spokesman. But Intel had the last laugh: AMD's vehicle never made the race because of a faulty motor. Although Intel's car caught fire after seven miles, it outlasted all others. In the end, neither man nor machine took the prize. Twelve years after banning chewing gum, ultraclean, ultrastrict Singapore will soon let citizens chew anew. That is, gum that promotes good health. But after opening the market with the help of congressional free-trade allies, giant Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. (WWR) now faces upstart gum maker ADB International of Santa Barbara, Calif., for the hearts and jaws of Singapore's 4 million. ADB plans to launch its sugarless Impress gum in Singapore on Apr. 2. To counter, Wrigley says it may move the debut of its sugarless Orbit up from May 1. In other words, let the gum wars begin. Here's a message for the desk set: Thin and light truly is de rigueur. This year, for the first time, liquid-crystal display (LCD) monitors will outsell the bulky cathode-ray tube (CRT) models that have been hogging desk space for decades, says researcher IDC.
With prices falling below $400, compared with about $150 for a CRT, customers are finding bargains galore. By 2007, worldwide LCD shipments are expected to top 119 million a year, vs. 30 million for CRTs. The upshot? Historians can now say with certainty that the world is going flat. What's the real mutual-fund scandal? Excessive fees, says John Bogle. The Vanguard Group founder believes regulators' next target will be exorbitant management fees and portfolio-trading costs. By Bogle's count, investors shell out nearly $100 billion a year on those fees, which eat into overall fund returns.
Other targets for reformers: the practice of stocking newer funds with initial public offerings to pump up returns, and 401(k) plans, which need better disclosure. "We've got to put shareholders back in the driver's seat," he says.
A heart transplant eight years ago hasn't slowed him down. The 74-year-old Bogle likes to say that he has the heart of a 34-year-old. Although he left Vanguard's board in 1999, he now runs Bogle Financial Markets Research Center, makes speeches, and often provides congressional testimony. Bogle says he still has "one boss" -- his wife, Eve -- who may persuade him to wind down one of these days. Need Final Four tickets? If you're confident your team will make it to college basket-ball's national semifinals on Apr. 3, a new Web site lets you skip ticket brokers. Deerfield (Ill.) startup Ticket Reserve sells a sort of futures contract, granting the right to buy a ticket at face value.
Take the Duke University Blue Devils. For $600, you can buy a Final Four contract at TicketReserve.com. If Duke makes the semis, you get to buy two game tickets for $65 each. You can sell the contract if you can get a higher price -- or if you think Duke will choke and want to get out before the price sinks.
Ticket Reserve doesn't own the seats but has a deal with a company that sells tickets to corporations. It splits the revenue from its 5% trading commission and contract sales with the company.
Ticket Reserve plans to offer other sporting events, such as football and auto racing in April and rugby and horse racing in the next few months. For now, the site isn't much of a marketplace: The ask price on the Duke option is $600, but the highest bid is $200. Founder Rick Harmon says liquidity should improve as March Madness progresses, upping its number of registered users beyond today's 3,000 people.
For a gutsy investor, Ticket Reserve could pay off. Using a ticket broker will likely be pricier -- eBay (EBAY) currently lists Final Four tickets for up to $1,050 -- and you don't know which teams you'll end up watching. Buying a Ticket Reserve contract guarantees that you'll see your team's shining moment. Of course, if your team loses, you're out the price of the contract and the chance to see the game in person. Critics have yet another gripe about the Economic Report of the President, which the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) sent to Congress on Feb. 9. In a Mar. 17 trade complaint, the AFL-CIO blasts the Administration for misleading data about factory job growth. The CEA report explains that although foreign trade wiped out thousands of jobs in low-skill industries such as textiles, it also helped boost high-skill factory employment. From 1950 to 2000, jobs soared 207% in the instrument industry, 102% in printing, and 77% in electronic equipment.
But labor contends that the head count ended conveniently early for the Bush Administration. Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the AFL-CIO shows that after the year 2000, jobs in those industries actually fell -- by 30% in electronic equipment, 12% in instruments, and 15% in printing. The CEA and the White House declined comment.