Business Notes

August 16 1999

Business Notes

August 16 1999

Business Notes

A wireless party line

Rogers Communications Inc. is selling one-third of its wireless business to British Telecommunications PLC and AT&T Corp. of New York City for $1.4 billion. The agreement for a stake in its subsidiary Rogers Cantel Mobile Communications Inc. allows Rogers to lower its debt while expanding its ability to offer customers package deals that include long-distance and wireless telephone services, cable TV, Internet access and paging. “To thrive in such a competitive marketplace, you can’t do it on your own,” said Ted Rogers, chief executive of Rogers Communications, as he, BT Worldwide president Alfred Mockett and John Zeglis, president of AT &T, announced the deal.

At the same time, British Telecom said it will pay $600 million for 30 per cent of AT&T Corp.’s 31-per-cent stake in AT&T Canada. Under the deal with Rogers, British Telecom and AT&T get first rights to bid for control of Cantel if Ottawa eases foreign ownership rules. While Mockett said commercial pressures in Canada “will undoubtedly lead to eventual liberalization” of the rules, Rogers said he is not considering selling control.

With a Newcourt deal, Hudson leaves

Steve Hudson, who founded Toronto-based Newcourt Credit Group Inc. in 1984 at age 26, is quitting as head of the worlds No. 2 commercial finance company. Hudson’s unexpected announcement came after he confirmed that Newcourt had reached a $4-billion deal to merge with CIT Group Inc. of Livingston, N.J. In March, Newcourt and CIT agreed to a merger worth $6 billion, but CIT called it off after Newcourt had a poor quarter. Hudson denied he was being pushed out, saying he was looking ahead to “a more normal life.”

Financial outlook

Children in school today can look forward to bright job prospects in the next two decades as aging baby boomers cause a massive surge in the


The number of Canadians retiring annually is expected to surge in coming years

number of people who retire every year, says a report by the Vancouverbased Urban Futures Institute. Today, about 225,000 Canadians retire annually. But that figure is expected to swell to 370,000 a year by 2010, and continue climbing to reach 425,000 by 2020. The report says the mass workplace exodus could lead to three-percent unemployment by 2009.

! “If you have the talents, they won’t I be wasted,” said David Baxter, who co1 authored the report. Besides jobs in I the computer-based economy, nurses, g teachers, police and firefighters are ex<§ pected to be in great demand.

The right chemistry

Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., announced a $14-billion deal to acquire Union Carbide Corp. of Danbury, Conn. If approved by shareholders and regulators, the sale will make Dow the world’s second-largest chemical firm behind E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. Earlier, Dow agreed to buy Calgary-based TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.’s chemical-making unit for $600 million.

Striking oil

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Penn West Petroleum Ltd., both of Calgary, reached a $ 1.6-billion deal to acquire BP Amoco PLC’s Canadian oil assets in Alberta and Saskatchewan. BP Amoco put the fields up for sale only in June. The London-based firm is on an aggressive drive to cut costs after it bought Chicago-based Amoco Corp. for $72 billion last year.

Cutting jobs at Nortel

Nortel Networks Corp. will cut 510 jobs by closing plants in Belleville, Ont., and Burnaby, B.C. The Brampton, Ont.-based telecommunications firm also sold eight facilities in France, Northern Ireland, Canada and the United States to five suppliers for $599 million as part of its plans to scale back phone equipment manufacturing.

New boss at Air Canada

The head of Montreal-based Air Canada, Lamar Durrett, is retiring at the end of the month. Durrett, who ran the carrier for the past three years, will be succeeded by Robert Milton as president and chief executive. Durrett helped the airline produce a record annual profit of $427 million in 1997, but labour strife and competition last year squeezed profits and the share price.

Sprint could be sold

Call-Net Enterprises Inc. says it will consider selling Sprint Canada Inc. in an effort to boost sagging share prices and to allay the concerns of disgruntled investors. Call-Net has asked financial adviser Scotia Capital Markets to consider a range of options, including possible alliances, or the sale of part or all of the company.