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InBev hasn't made decision on possible Rolling Rock sale

| Thursday, May 11, 2006

InBev NV, the brewer of Stella Artois and Beck's, hasn't made a final decision about the possible sale of its Rolling Rock brand, a spokeswoman said. As previously reported, Anheuser-Busch Cos. is close to buying Rolling Rock, brewed at Latrobe Brewing Co., in Latrobe, Westmoreland County. The New York Post on Wednesday reported a possible price of about $25 million. InBev is "examining opportunities" for the brand and won't comment further until its review is complete, said Gwendoline Ornigg, a spokeswoman for the Leuven, Belgium-based company. Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, may want to buy Rolling Rock because it costs 16 percent more than the company's Budweiser beer, UBS Securities LLC analyst Caroline Levy said in a May 2 note.

Steelmaker may build plant

Brazilian steel company CSN said Wednesday it plans to build a steel-rolling mill in Kentucky if a proposed deal with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Corp. is not concluded. A decision on the Wheeling-Pittsburgh alliance will be made in the near future, said Marcos Lutz, director of infrastructure and energy for Companhia Siderurgica Nacional SA. "This is an alternative to the Wheeling-Pittsburgh deal," Lutz said. "If we are not able to conclude the alliance with Wheeling-Pittsburgh, we will go ahead with this new greenfield project."

Whirlpool cutting 4,500 jobs

Whirlpool Corp. said Wednesday that it will eliminate 4,500 jobs by closing three plants and consolidating corporate offices and other sites following its acquisition of rival appliance maker Maytag Corp. The moves come in the wake of Whirlpool's $1.8 billion acquisition of Maytag on March 31, extending its lead as the nation's biggest appliance maker. Whirlpool plans to close Maytag washer and dryer plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Ill.; and Searcy, Ark. Laundry manufacturing sites in Clyde, Ohio, and Marion, Ohio, will absorb the production. Also slated to close are Maytag's corporate headquarters and research center in Newton, Iowa.

Owens Corning to pay

Building products maker Owens Corning will pay more than $5 billion to asbestos claimants and as much as $2.27 billion to holders of debt as part of an agreed upon plan for the company to exit bankruptcy protection. The asbestos claimants, creditors and other parties agreed Wednesday on the plan that would see the company emerge from more than five years of bankruptcy protection. "We've reached an agreement," Norman Pernick, an attorney for the company, told a Pittsburgh bankruptcy court. "We should be emerging (from bankruptcy) in the fall."

Northwest loss $1.1B

Bankrupt Northwest Airlines Corp. said Wednesday it lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter, attributing most of the red ink to bankruptcy expenses. The nation's fourth-largest airline said its loss would have been $129 million without $975 million in bankruptcy expenses. Operating revenue for the quarter ended March 31 was $2.9 billion, up 3.3 percent from the same period a year ago. The airline said it spent $1.87 per gallon on fuel for the quarter, up almost 36 percent from the same period last year.

Utility's profits decline

Duquesne Light Co.'s parent earned half as much in this year's first quarter as it did a year ago, although the company cited changes in the value of derivative energy contracts and other factors as reasons for the drop. Downtown-based Duquesne Light Holdings reported first-quarter net income Wednesday of $14.4 million, or 18 cents a share, compared to $35 million, or 45 cents, a year ago. Revenues were up by 2.4 percent, to $223.9 million from $218.7 million a year ago. CEO Morgan O'Brien said the company could file its next "provider of last resort" plan by late September, indicating what generation rates consumers can expect after 2007.

Highmark to stay open

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will man three area locations until 9 p.m. or later on Monday to answer last-minute questions concerning the Medicare Part D program. Member service telephone lines likewise will answer Medicare beneficiaries' questions past normal business hours so that applicants can avoid paying a penalty if not signed up by 12 a.m. Monday. The Downtown service center at 501 Penn Ave. will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight, while Highmark representatives will answer questions and take Part D applications at the Holiday Inn Select on Fort Couch Road in Bethel Park from 6 p.m. to midnight, and at St. Barnabas Washington Place in Gibsonia from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Other business news

  • The Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds office beginning today will accept electronically transmitted mortgages and mortgage assignments. Other land-related documents will be accepted at a later date, the Recorder's office said. Allegheny County is one of only four of the state's 67 counties that currently accepts electronically transmitted documents.

  • North Pittsburgh Systems Inc. reported first-quarter earnings Wednesday of $5.59 million or 37 cents a share versus $4.69 million or 31 cents a year ago. Revenue for the telecommunications firm was $26.7 million, compared to $27.2 million. President Harry R. Brown said the 19.1 percent earnings increase was due to higher earnings from investments in three wireless partnerships and other factors.

  • Labor attorney Jonathan L. Alder, a founding partner of the Cohen & Grigsby firm, has joined Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch LLC to lead its employment and employee benefits practice.

  • Pittsburgh-area stocks fell Wednesday. The Bloomberg Pittsburgh Index of 69 stocks fell 0.26 to 317.21.

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