Business digest 08/12/06

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Former Wal-Mart exec sentenced for theft

FORT SMITH, Ark. -- A former No. 2 Wal-Mart executive who began his career as the company's theft prevention chief was sentenced Friday to 27 months in home detention after pleading guilty to stealing money, merchandise and gift cards from the retailer. Thomas Coughlin, 57, avoided any prison time, but was ordered also to serve five years probation, and pay a $50,000 fine and about $411,000 in restitution to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the Internal Revenue Service. Prosecutors had asked for Coughlin to serve six months to a year in prison, but U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson agreed with a doctor who testified that Coughlin's health was too poor for him to enter prison. Coughlin pleaded guilty in January to stealing items from the world's largest retailer that were worth just a fraction of the millions of dollars he earned in salary, bonuses and stock options.

Oil prices rise; share prices for airlines slide

ATLANTA -- Shares in several major U.S. airlines slid further Friday, a day after British officials said they foiled a plot to blow up planes crossing the Atlantic. But the latest slide may have more to do with higher oil prices than with the terror threat itself. Crude-oil prices rose Friday after dropping more than $2 a barrel a day earlier, as markets reevaluated jet-fuel demand and consumer confidence in the wake of the thwarted airplane attacks. After their stocks were pummeled Thursday on word of the terror threat, shares of Continental Airlines Inc. and UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines, continued their slide Friday on the oil price rise.

Apple trying to keep stock on Nasdaq

SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple Computer Inc. maneuvered Friday to keep its shares listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market after reiterating its mishandling of past employee stock options will cause it to miss a regulatory deadline for filing its latest quarterly results. Apple said it will ask for an administrative hearing in response to a Nasdaq letter formally warning of a possible delisting because of the company's delay in making its quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. By requesting a Nasdaq hearing, Apple ensured its shares will remain listed until a two-person panel reviews the matter and then issues a ruling. That process generally takes two to three months to complete.

Brazil firm trying to be top nickel producer

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Brazil's CVRD, the world's largest iron ore miner, said Friday it will offer 17.2 billion Canadian dollars ($15.3 billion) plus debt assumption for Toronto-based miner Inco Ltd. in an attempt to become the planet's largest nickel producer. The cash offer of 86 Canadian dollars per share ($76.54) by Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA should be more attractive than bids by U.S.-based copper miner Phelps Dodge Corp. and Canada's Teck Cominco Ltd. because the other offers involve both stock and cash, CVRD chief executive Roger Agnelli said.

-- From wire reports

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