Business digest 02/05/05

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Deere opens equipment assembly plant in Russia

MOLINE, Ill. -- Farm implement maker Deere & Co. has opened an assembly facility in Russia to provide seeding carts and air seeding tools to customers in the region, the company announced Friday. Deere said the plant, about 800 miles southeast of Moscow, allows it to lower logistics costs and makes it easier to do business in the region.

Kansas City OKs lease with American Airlines

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- American Airlines, which now employs more than 1,400 people at its overhaul base at Kansas City International Airport, would maintain at least 700 jobs there under a 25-year lease with the city. The parties reached preliminary agreement 15 months ago on a long-term plan for the base, and although final details are still being worked out, the lease was authorized unanimously Thursday by the city council. Bill Skaggs, chairman of the Aviation Committee, said the city and the airline could sign it in 10 days.

Ethiopia, Japan place big orders with Boeing

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopian Airlines plans to acquire up to 10 of Boeing Co.'s new 787s at an overall cost of about $1.3 billion, an airline spokesman said Friday. The airline will buy outright five of the Boeing airplanes also called Dreamliners and take delivery of the first plane in 2008, said Kagnew Fessaha, spokesman of Ethiopian Airlines. The fuel-efficient Boeing 787 is due to go into service in 2008. Kagnew did not give any other details. The announcement came the same day that Japan Airlines, Japan's biggest airline, said it was ordering 30 jets from Boeing in a contract worth about $1.8 billion. The order for the 737NG, which stands for "next generation," follows an order by Japan Airlines in December for 30 of the new 787s.

Feds can't seek $280 billion from tobacco firms

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Justice Department cannot seek $280 billion it alleges the tobacco industry earned through fraud, an enormous victory for American cigarette makers. The industry had urged the federal appeals court late last year to throw out a lower court decision allowing the Justice Department to seek the penalty from the companies for allegedly misleading the public about the dangers of smoking. The government brought the lawsuit, being heard in U.S. District Court, under a civil racketeering statute originally designed to prosecute mobsters. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the civil RICO statute doesn't allow the government to recover money in the ongoing lower court case.

Monsanto resolves patent dispute over bacteria

ST. LOUIS -- Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. has resolved a patent dispute with Bayer CropScience and a German not-for-profit research organization, and those involved will cross-license some technologies worldwide, the companies said Friday. The announcement ends a long-standing rift over agrobacterium technology, a process that allows scientists to transfer DNA to plant cells. Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

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