Business & Finance
More than half the US's public pension plans are underfunded due to heavy stock-market losses, The Wall Street Journal reported. Citing a study by consulting firm Wilshire Associates Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., that number could rise to 75 percent next year, the paper said. Retirement funds for public-school teachers in West Virginia, Indiana, and Oklahoma were named as among the worst-funded. The shortfall won't affect retirees, the newspaper noted, but its report said current employees may have to contribute more of their pay toward pensions.
A spinoff of Universal Studios, coupled with an initial public offering, is among options being considered by troubled French media giant Vivendi, according to a report Saturday in the Financial Times. Its online edition said Vivendi could choose to keep at least some of its 86 percent stake in Universal Studios, currently valued at about $5 billion. The Financial Times said the option is likely to be presented to a Sept. 25 meeting of Vivendi's board. The Paris-based company, mired in $35 billion worth of debt, has reported a $12.2 billion loss for the first half of the year. It announced plans last week to put almost $10 billion worth of assets up for sale, among them Boston textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin. Vivendi declined to comment on the Financial Times report.
Charter Communications's accounting practices are under investigation by federal prosecutors, the nation's fourth-largest cable-TV company revealed Friday. A shareholder lawsuit, filed the day before, accused Charter of inflating earnings by listing labor costs as capital expenses and counting Internet-only subscribers as cable customers. Charter is based in St. Louis and operates in 40 states. Chairman Paul Allen, a cofounder of Microsoft, owns a 55-percent controlling stake in the company.
Coca-Cola, the world's leading soft-drink company, said it is changing its logo, with the latest design to appear on packaging next year. The design is described as an updated version of Coke's traditional intertwined white-and-yellow ribbons and script. The redesign follows a 2 percent drop in volume of US sales last year.