In brief


Allegiant Air traffic rises 24 percent in September

Allegiant Travel Co., which operates an Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air, on Friday said its traffic in September jumped 24 percent as the airline added routes.

Allegiant Air, which is marketed to leisure travelers in small cities, flew passengers 362.7 million miles last month, compared with 292.2 million miles the same month a year earlier. The airlines capacity, or the number of available seats, leaped 22.6 percent to 420.5 million. Its load factor, or occupancy rate, rose 1.1 percent to 86.3 percent.

Allegiant’s traffic is up 15.9 percent this year from 2009 on a 15.7 percent increase in available seats.


Sanofi-Aventis will eliminate 1,700 jobs in restructuring

Sanofi-Aventis SA, the world’s fourth-biggest drugmaker, said Friday it is eliminating 1,700 jobs in its U.S. pharmaceutical business in a restructuring triggered by growing generic competition and other factors.

The news comes as Sanofi’s struggle to buy U.S. biotech firm Genzyme Corp. drags on.

The layoffs amount to about 25 percent of the workers in the company’s U.S. pharmaceutical business, and will primarily hit sales representatives around the country and administrative staff at Sanofi’s American headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J.

About 1,400 sales staff will be laid off, as well as about 300 staff in administrative jobs, Sanofi-Aventis spokesman Jack Cox said.


Wholesale inventories rise by 0.8 percent during August

Businesses have been restocking store shelves since the recession ended, a sign that they expect the economic recovery to continue.

Inventories at the wholesale level rose by 0.8 percent in August, following a 1.5 percent increase the month before, the Commerce Department said Friday. Sales rose by 0.5 percent, a slightly smaller gain than the 0.8 percent rise in July.

Businesses helped drive the early stage of the recovery last year by rebuilding inventories that grew thin during the recession. The economic crisis led wholesalers to cut their inventories for 13 consecutive months starting in September 2008. When they started restocking last year, that boosted orders to U.S. factories and helped spur overall economic growth.


Chief of IMF warns ministers on currency manipulation

The head of the International Monetary Fund on Friday urged global finance ministers to stop trying to manipulate their currencies for economic advantage and instead to join to save a fragile recovery.

The global economy is struggling to emerge from the worst recession since the end of World War II, said IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Unless the pace of job growth quickens, he said, "we really face the risk of a lost generation" of young people unable to get work.

Strauss-Kahn’s remarks came as finance ministers from around the world gathered for the annual meetings of the 187-nation IMF and its sister lending organization, the World Bank.

"We are gathering at a pivotal moment facing a very uncertain future," Strauss-Kahn told the delegates. "Growth is coming back but we all know that it is fragile and uneven."


Don’t go, logo! Gap’s emblem switch has consumers irked

Gap is taking a lot of flak online for stealthily swapping out its decades-old white-on-navy blue logo.

Fans are puzzled, even irritated, and an expert is calling the way Gap Inc. has handled the switch "pretty stupid."

But the chain still plans to add the new logo — a white background with black letters and a little blue box — to its stores and advertising next month. A spokeswoman said Friday that Gap will unveil plans within weeks for customers to help with the new logo, which appeared on Gap’s website Monday.

"We love our version, but we’d like to … see other ideas," the company was telling fans by Wednesday on Facebook — where it’s still using the old logo, the blue square with white capital letters.

It’s unclear what kind of help Gap has in mind — making changes to the new design, creating an entirely new logo or contributing to other parts of Gap’s branding. The company hasn’t touched the looks of its other brands — Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

U.A.E. retreats on threat to cut BlackBerry services

The United Arab Emirates on Friday backed off a threat to cut key BlackBerry services, just days before a planned ban that could have harmed the country’s business-friendly reputation.

The last-minute decision ended more than two months of brinksmanship with the Canadian company that makes the smart phones, a tool popular both with businesspeople and gadget-loving consumers in this Gulf federation.

The ban on e-mail, messaging and Web services — which the government threatened to impose over security concerns — was due to take effect Monday.

Half a million local users and thousands of BlackBerry-toting business travelers would have been affected. Dubai’s airport, the region’s busiest, handles about 100,000 passengers daily.


MGM studio seeks creditors’ approval for bankruptcy plan

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. said it has begun seeking its creditors’ approval on a prepackaged bankruptcy plan in which they will exchange more than $4 billion in debt for equity in a new company that has rights to the James Bond franchise and the upcoming two-part movie series "The Hobbit."

Privately held production company Spyglass Entertainment, a co-financier of such recent films as "Star Trek" and "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra," will contribute some assets and merge two subsidiaries into MGM for a 4.69 percent stake in the company, according to the plan.

Creditors would hold 95.3 percent of the company after it exits from Chapter 11.

Only approved holders of secured debt as of Oct. 4 will be allowed to vote. The company declined to provide the list of creditors that can participate, but major creditors include Anchorage Advisors LLC, Highland Capital Management LP and billionaire investor Carl Icahn. Voting continues until Oct. 22, when the company plans to file for bankruptcy and exit the court process in about 30 days.


Source says Toyota will roll out two new Prius-branded cars

Toyota plans to roll out two new cars under the Prius name by next year, according to a dealer briefed on the plans, as the automaker seeks to turn its popular hybrid into a family of vehicles.

The Japanese automaker will begin selling a Prius station wagon starting next summer as either a 2011 or 2012 model, said Adam Lee, president of the Lee Auto Malls chain of dealerships in Maine. It will sell a plug-in version of the Prius that can get 30 miles on a charge starting later in the year, he said.

Toyota unveiled the new vehicles at its annual dealer meeting in Las Vegas this week. Lee was briefed on the new models by the manager of his Toyota dealership, who was in attendance.

Toyota spokesman Sam Butto declined to comment on specific product plans.


Casino closing temporarily at Siena Hotel in Reno

The Siena Hotel Spa Casino in downtown Reno is temporarily closing its casino but keeping its hotel, restaurants and sports book open.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Siena management is holding a meeting with employees to discuss the resort’s plans.

The Siena filed for bankruptcy protection in August in a move to keep the property open while a deal to bring in a partner to run it can be completed.

According to papers filed with U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Siena’s overall debt could be as much as $100 million.

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