"We told FASB to fix this problem. Now we're telling them...that the political fix is in." -- Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.), on a bill to block a rule requiring companies to expense options
Tony Auto Companies such as Porsche (PSEPF) and Mercedes-Benz (DCX) trumpet Bose's stereo systems to bolster their own brands. They could soon turn to Bose to supply a high-fidelity ride for the whole car.
BusinessWeek has learned that company founder and Chairman Amar Bose will unveil what he believes is a revolutionary car-suspension system. Bose has been working secretly for the past decade on a way to smooth a vehicle's ride. Bose won't reveal the details until late August, after the patents have been filed.
The mercurial Bose, 75, has astonished rivals before with products in previously unheard-of segments, such as the $349 Wave radio. Still, at first blush, auto analysts are skeptical. "Bose is incredibly strong in audio, but it could take years to achieve any recognition if it wants to be a player in engineering of the car,"says Tom Libby of Power Information Network.
A suspension success would strengthen an already humming business: Privately held Bose had $1.6 billion in sales last year, a 23% gain from 2002. Surveys from J.D. Power & Associates show that Bose is the brand that consumers link most often with superior sound quality. So if Bose's idea has merit, auto manufacturers will be all ears.
Labor unions have come up with a creative new approach for targeting Wal-Mart Stores (WMT): a 527 independent political committee, like the ones Democrats have been using this year to circumvent campaign-finance restrictions. At its August meeting in Chicago, the AFL-CIO also plans to form a committee of union presidents to combat the country's largest employer. Labor will sink several million dollars and a staff of a dozen or so into the 527, which will coordinate disparate anti-Wal-Mart groups, including anti-sprawl activists, living-wage campaigners, religious groups, and, of course, unions, says United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) President Joseph Hansen.
The idea is to create a clearinghouse for information about the retailing giant to get all these groups to work together. "It now seems they [the UFCW] have found an innovative way to pool their money and spread more lies tax-free," says a Wal-Mart spokesperson. The question is, will a broad political approach be any more successful than labor's many failed attempts to unionize Wal-Mart workers?
Tyco International (TYC) may soon sell its global telecommunications network. A number of potential buyers, led by the telecom unit of India's Tata Group, have emerged to acquire the company's web of undersea and overland wires, BusinessWeek has learned.
Chief Executive Edward Breen Jr. began shopping the network around last November as part of his restructuring plans. Tyco has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS) to auction off the business, which includes transatlantic and transpacific cables and lines across Europe and the U.S.
Tata appears to be the most interested in buying Tyco Global Network, which was valued at $3.5 billion during the height of the telecom boom in the late '90s, according to a source close to the matter. Tata is considering a price in the low "$200 million range," the source says. Tata's telecom unit, India's incumbent international phone company, has lots of inbound capacity. But it lacks outbound bandwidth -- a gap that Tyco could help fill.
Pivotal Private Equity in Phoenix also has shown keen interest in Tyco Global. Pivotal owns Internet domain pioneer Network Solutions and has been acquiring telecom assets of late. Other interested parties include Reliance Infocomm, which provides telecom services in India, and Trinity Ventures, a private equity firm in Menlo Park, Calif. Singapore Technologies also is interested -- but has its hands full with a troubled Global Crossing (GLBCE) acquisition.
As for Tyco, it has had enough of the undersea-cable market. Such cables were basic to the go-go strategy of the Dennis Kozlowski era, but Breen will no doubt be glad when this Tyco chapter is over.
Time to test-drive that new...watch? TAG Heuer, the world's fourth-largest watch-maker, has developed a timepiece with a movement consisting of belts and pistons similar to an automobile engine. The official Indianapolis 500 timekeeper claims the Monaco V4 Concept Watch is an innovative leap beyond quartz crystal-based models because it doesn't require batteries, or maintenance, to keep it ticking accurately. The Monaco V4 retails for $8,000 to $12,000, or about the price of a Saturn (GM) Ion. TAG Heuer hopes to use the technology in watches aimed at a broader audience over the next 18 months. No word yet on gas mileage.
The office-supply superstore wars are heating up. On June 30, Bruce Nelson, CEO of Office Depot (ODP), launched an aggressive expansion program, including a spiffier store design and a major invasion of the Northeast, territory dominated by rival Staples (SPLS). Then, on July 13, Depot teamed up with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) to offer the nation's first in-store recycling program for unwanted electronics such as old PCs. The program runs through Sept. 6, but Nelson hopes to extend it.
Nelson, 59, has kept Depot a leader in delivering office supplies. But he has played catch-up to Staples in superstores. Depot has 900 superstores in North America, compared with Staples' 1,400. To close the gap, he plans to open 100 new stores in each of the next three years. Nelson, who shuns such distractions as serving on outside boards, is ready for a long fight. "I haven't even thought about retirement." He's too busy trying to catch Staples.
Who's the No. 1 senior golfer in the world? Among men, it's arguably the champ of the U.S. Senior Open, the annual tourney for graybeards 50 and over that begins on July 29 in St. Louis. But the top golden oldie among women players? Don't ask the U.S. Golf Assn. The august USGA, which puts on the men's U.S. Senior Open, doesn't hold a senior open for ladies.
That's a slap, say some top women players. A small group, led by Jane Blalock, a star on the LPGA tour in the 1970s, is prodding the USGA to stage a ladies' senior open. It's about time, the advocates say, given that the Senior Open for men got its start in 1980. Blalock has written to USGA Prez Fred Ridley, but she hasn't met with USGA officials yet. Jan Stephenson, another vocal supporter and the 1983 U.S. Women's Open champ, also is sounding off. "It's very frustrating. We just want them to listen to us," says Stephenson, 52.
Doubters question whether a women's senior open would excite fans and sponsors. There's also debate about whether women golf champs 50 and over are plentiful enough to hold a national championship. Such concerns are off-base, claims Blalock, 58, president of the fledgling Women's Senior Golf Tour, now in its third year. "We have star power, and we could draw," she says.
The USGA has been crown-ing female champs since Lucy Barnes won the Women's Amateur Championship in 1895. The Senior Open is the only USGA tourney, without a female counterpart. Ridley says a women's senior open is an issue that he's "taking seriously." Chances are the USGA will get even more serious when Nancy Lopez, the queen of ladies' golf, turns 50 in 2007.
Media companies are learning Spanish faster than you can say r?pido. On July 26, San Antonio's Meximerica Media, with backing from Pearson (PSO), launches Rumbo, the first of four tabloids aimed at Texas Latinos.
Rumbo has sparked other Texas papers to put out Spanish offshoots recently, such as the Houston Chronicle's La Vibra. Also, Washington Post Co. (WPO) announced plans to buy El Tiempo Latino in May, and Tribune Co.'s (TRB) Hoy expanded to Los Angeles in March.
No wonder: Ad revenues at Spanish-language papers outgrew the general market and hit $854 million last year, says Latino Print Network. With the U.S. Latino population growing 3% each year, vs. 0.8% for everyone else, the fight for its readers is only going to become more picante.