Business digest 05/17/05

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

McDonald's testing new oil blend for french fries

CHICAGO -- Healthy french fries might seem like an oxymoron, but McDonald's said it is trying to make good on an almost 3-year-old promise by testing a healthier blend of oil for its signature fries at a small number of restaurants. The company would not disclose the location or number of restaurants at which it is testing the cooking oil. A company spokesman said it is gauging customer feedback but wouldn't say what the response has been. McDonald's in September 2002 vowed to switch to a new oil that would halve the level of harmful trans fatty acid in its fries. Trans fat is produced when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil -- a process called hydrogenation. It raises the body's level of artery-clogging cholesterol.

UPS to buy trucking firm Overnite for $1.25 billion

ATLANTA -- UPS Inc., the world's biggest shipping carrier, is stepping up expansion of its freight delivery business with its $1.25 billion purchase of trucking company Overnite Corp. The deal announced Monday is UPS' largest single acquisition, and follows the Atlanta-based company's decision last week to spend $24 million to build and equip five regional freight hubs at airports around the country. Overnite shares soared 43 percent; UPS shares also rose.

United Airlines, unions still hung up in talks

CHICAGO -- Contract negotiations that could determine whether United Airlines is hit by a threatened employee strike remained unresolved Monday as a federal bankruptcy judge heard a fourth day of testimony in the carrier's trial over labor costs. Despite signals from both the mechanics' and machinists' unions last week that tentative settlements were close, no agreements were announced by midafternoon as the trial moved closer to conclusion. The company and unions are trying to wrap up deals before Judge Eugene Wedoff rules on United's motion to replace existing contracts with lower pay and benefits. Both the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers have said they will strike if United breaks the contracts, as has the Association of Flight Attendants. The judge scheduled closing arguments in the trial for Thursday. It is unclear whether a ruling would come immediately afterward.

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