Business & Finance

Two dissident former directors ended their long-running feud with the Walt Disney Co., dropping a contentious lawsuit against the entertainment industry giant just as court action was about to begin. Roy Disney and Stanley Gold also agreed not to nominate a slate of directors who would oppose those already elected by fellow shareholders, not to propose shareholder resolutions for the next five years, and to support chief executive-designate Robert Iger, who's scheduled to assume the post in September. Iger will succeed the controversial Michael Eisner, whom Roy Disney and Gold bitterly opposed on grounds that his managerial style and abilities had caused the company's shares to underperform since the mid-1990s. In exchange, the company appointed Roy Disney as a director emeritus and a consultant. The Roy Disney-Gold lawsuit, asking that the election of directors be voided and a new election be ordered, had been scheduled for a hearing next month.

After more than a year of trying, Omnicare Inc. won its battle to take over rival pharmaceutical supplier NeighborCare, the companies said late last week. Published reports put the value of the deal at $1.55 billion, although Omnicare had announced in mid-June that it was raising its unsolicited bid to $1.7 billion. Both companies supply prescription drugs to nursing homes. Omnicare is based in Covington, Ky.; NeighborCare in Baltimore.

Volkswagen's board is expected to decide Tuesday whether to accept the resignation of its personnel director, the latest in a series of senior executives to step down amid a growing bribery and fraud scandal. Company chief Bernd Pischetsrieder told a newspaper interviewer over the weekend that "the damage could run into six figures." The automaker, Europe's largest, has acknowledged that prosecutors are looking into allegations that some managers had sought kickbacks from suppliers and had set up "dummy" enterprises to win business from VW. But Pischetsrieder flatly denied allegations that the company had used expense accounts to bribe members of its labor council with free trips to luxury destinations. The scandal also has a political dimension. The personnel director who offered to quit, Peter Hartz, is a close ally of and adviser to German Chancelor Gerhard Schröder.

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