News In Brief

The nation's largest local phone service provider, Ameritech, should have to respond to service complaints at a public forum in about a month, regulators from five Midwest states urged Friday. Customers have accused the company of inordinate delays in repairs and of less-than-satisfactory treatment by company representatives, consumer group Citizens Utility Board has said. Service complaints have increased, an Ohio official maintained, since the company was acquired by San Antonio-based SBC Communications last year. The company's territory includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Unilever said it will close the Chicago factory where it makes shampoo and skin-care products, eliminating 600 jobs. Friday's announcement came four years after the London conglomerate bought Chicago-based Helene Curtis and said it intended to maintain the manufacturing facility there. Production will be moved to plants in Connecticut, Missouri, and North Carolina. A company executive said the move was part of an effort to eliminate 25,000 jobs and close 100 production sites around the world.

The second-largest US cement producer, Southdown Inc., agreed to be acquired by expansion-minded Mexican rival Cemex. Houston-based Southdown operates 12 plants; its strongest markets are California and Florida. But analysts said Cemex's immediate 4.4 percent drop in its share price was proof that the $2.8 billion it will pay for Southdown is alarming to investors even as it pursues another takeover target, the Portuguese cement company Simpor.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.