Qwest Communications International will sell its prize phone-directory-publishing unit for more than $7 billion, published reports said. The buyers were identified as private equity partners, the Carlyle Group of Washington and Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe of New York. Qwest has been under heavy pressure to unload the lucrative division as a way of lowering its $26.6 billion debt.
VoiceStream Wireless Corp. has been offered by its German parent to rival Cingular in a proposed deal that would put the latter in position to challenge for leadership of the US cellphone market, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said no terms have been set, although Voice Stream has been valued at between $10 billion and $15 billion. Bellevue, Wash.-based VoiceStream was acquired in July of last year by Deutsche Telekom for $46 billion to gain a foothold in the US market. The latter then paid $5.8 billion for service provider Powertel of West Point, Ga., which was folded into Voice Stream. But those moves raised Deutsche Telekom's debt load to a whopping $67 billion, and the company's management is seeking to cut that to at least $49.2 billion by the end of next year. Verizon Wireless, with 30.3 million customers, currently dominates the US cellphone market.
Black & Decker Corp., a leading maker of power tools, is recalling almost 1 million cordless drills and about 6,100 table saws, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said. The "Firestorm" and "Quantum Pro" drills, sold nationwide between March 1999 and last December, have switches that can overheat. The 10-inch saws, sold from last August through April of this year, can crack, exposing users to electric shock.
Cendant Corp., the world's largest franchiser of hotels, was to announce Tuesday that it will drop as many as 300 of its properties, The Wall Street Journal reported. Citing a senior company executive, the newspaper said the move would be made to weed out hotels whose standards had slipped. Cendant's affiliates include Days Inn, Super 8, Travelodge, Howard Johnson, Ramada, Villager, Knights Inn, Wingate, and AmeriHost.
Money-losing and deeply indebted VARIG, the flagship airline of Brazil, will cut more routes and jobs, its new president confirmed. Arnim Lore said specifics will be announced later, stressing that the company "will not survive with the current financial structure." Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US, VARIG has laid off 10 percent of its workforce and returned 20 of its leased jets.