Business & Finance

In an abrupt about-face, DaimlerChrysler said it would go ahead after all with the $2.5 billion bond issue whose cancelation was announced Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that the cancelation produced a deluge of complaints by insurance companies, pension plans, and other investors who'd agreed to buy the bonds and already had freed up the cash to do so by selling other securities. In fact, the Journal said, DaimlerChrysler bonds already trading on a so-called "when-issued" basis were appreciating in value.

Home-design guru Martha Stewart resigned as chairman and chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia after pleading innocent Wednesday to federal charges of securities fraud, conspiracy, and lying to investigators about her controversial sale of ImClone stock. Her former broker also was indicted. In a related civil suit, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused her of insider trading. Stewart will remain a director, her company said, and will take up the new post of chief creative officer. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 10; opinion, page 11.)

Acknowledging a $2.1 billion loss last year, Aquila Inc. chief Richard Green told shareholders at the troubled company's annual meeting, "To each and every one of you, I apologize." He said the Kansas City, Mo., firm should have pulled out of the energy-trading market sooner, adding that while he expected it to remain in the red through 2004, Aquila should be able to avoid bankruptcy.

Conceding that 2002 was a "very difficult year," Riche-mont AG, the world's second-largest marketer of luxury goods, wrote down the value of all subsidiaries it has acquired over the past decade by $3.9 billion, the Financial Times reported. Richemont's operating profit fell by $304 million for the period, the newspaper said. The Zug, Switzerland, company sells such products as Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, Baume & Mercier watches, Montblanc pens, and Alfred Dunhill leather goods.

Delta Air Lines wants to trim another $500 million in employee-related costs by 2005 by reviewing health and pension benefits, contract services, and other means short of further layoffs, the struggling carrier said Wednesday. Other money-saving initiatives included more self-service airport kiosks and expanded low-fare flights.

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