Toys 'R' Us ponders leaving toy business

Thursday, August 12, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. -- Toys "R" Us Inc., battered by price wars from discounters, particularly Wal-Mart, is considering getting out of the toy business. The nation's second-largest toy retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced plans Wednesday to restructure its toy business, but said it is considering selling the business outright as part of an effort to dramatically reduce operating and capital expenses. The $11.6 billion company is also pursuing a possible spinoff of its fast-growing Babies "R" Us, whose 200 stores sell furniture, including cribs and bedding, as well as accessories.

Journal: Halliburton report misses $1.8 billion

WASHINGTON -- Halliburton Co. did not adequately account for more than $1.8 billion it billed the government for work in Iraq and Kuwait, a published report on the findings of Pentagon auditors said Wednesday. The results of the audit, reported by The Wall Street Journal, were the latest financial headache for Halliburton subsidiary KBR, formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, which filed for bankruptcy protection last year to resolve billions of dollars in pending asbestos claims.

Enron founder won't get September trial

HOUSTON -- Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay won't get the September trial he wanted on charges stemming from the scandal-choked company's collapse. But he could learn by early October whether he'll get a separate trial or face a judge or jury next alongside his one-time protege, former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, and the company's former top accountant, Richard Causey. Skilling, 50, and Causey, 44, each face more than 30 counts of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading for allegedly participating in schemes to fool investors into believing Enron was more financially healthy than it was.

Construction firm indicted in bid-rigging allegations

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A road-construction company and one of its executives were indicted Wednesday for allegedly conspiring to rig a bid on a Missouri highway project, authorities said. Donald G. Mantle, vice president of APAC-Missouri, and the company itself were indicted on a federal charge of conspiracy in restraint of trade, the Department of Justice announced. Authorities said APAC-Missouri conspired with another construction company, identified only as a "corporate co-conspirator," which submitted a higher bid for a highway project in exchange for a $2.9 million subcontract from APAC-Missouri after the company won the bid. The conspiracy occurred from July 2000 to April 2002 and involved a $7.1 million project in Ste. Genevieve County, the department said.

Texas grand jury probes natural gas pricing

HOUSTON -- As many as 10 former El Paso Corp. traders and supervisors could face charges of manipulating natural gas prices as the scope of a grand jury investigation into the matter expands. The U.S. Attorney's office in Houston last week began sending letters to potential defendants alerting them that they are targets in a probe that so far has netted a single guilty plea from a former trader, said sources close to the case, who had seen the letters but spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal deficit reaches record at $395.8 billion

WASHINGTON -- With two months still to go in the government's budget year, the federal deficit has hit a record $395.8 billion. The monthly accounting of spending and revenue showed that the July deficit totaled $69.2 billion, up 27.5 percent from the $54.2 billion shortfall in July 2003, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. The $395.8 billion deficit through the first 10 months of the government's fiscal year was up 22 percent from the same period a year earlier and now has passed the record deficit of $374.3 billion for all of last year.

-- From wire reports

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