News In Brief
As Sony Corp. was announcing it will begin selling consumer electronics online, its US-based music arm was being sued for allegedly forcing retailers to stock CDs that could cost them future business. In Tokyo, the electronics giant said it had formed Sony Style.com and expected to earn almost $95 million in online direct sales in the first year. Other Japanese manufacturers have been wary of such a venture, which has the potential to upset traditional family-like ties with dealers. Meanwhile, in US District Court in Washington, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers accused Sony Music Entertainment Inc. of packaging promotional inserts and software with its CDs that are designed to drive customers to competing retailers affiliated with the company.
Joining Sony, Nissan, and other major companies that recently have made similar announcements, Japan Tobacco Inc. said it will lay off 4,500 workers over the next five years. The cigarettemaker said it needed to improve efficiency in the wake of its $7.4 billion takeover of RJR Nabisco's international tobacco business last year. The news came as the Tokyo government reported that Japan's unemployment rate averaged a record 4.7 percent in 1999.
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