The third-largest US maker of textiles for the home, Pillowtex Corp., filed for bankruptcy and announced its intention to go out of business. The move will result in the closure of 16 production and distribution facilities and a loss of jobs for 6,500 people. The Kannapolis, N.C., company said its assets would be bought by a consortium of investors. The bankruptcy filing was the company's second in less than three years. Pillowtex, formerly known as Fieldcrest Cannon, has made sheets and towels under those brands as well as Royal Velvet and Charisma.
May Department Stores Co., the No. 4 chain in the US, said it will close 34 outlets, resulting in the loss of 3,700 jobs. The St. Louis company said the closures will save about $50 million a year. Included in move are 32 upscale Lord & Taylor stores in 15 states; a Famous-Barr outlet in Des Moines, Iowa; and a Jones Store in Omaha, Neb. The closures will leave the company with 414 stores in 45 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.
In other layoff news:
• A $1.1 billion cost-saving drive in its mobile communications division will result in 2,300 job cuts next year, the German engineering and electronics giant Siemens said.
• Another 1,400 layoffs were announced by ICI, the British producer of specialty chemicals and paints. The company, formally known as Imperial Chemical Industries, said in May it would cut 700 jobs.
• Trinity Mirror PLC, the British publisher of magazines and such newspapers as the Daily Mirror (London), confirmed reports that it will lay off 550 employees and sell off its Northern Ireland properties.
• Schering AG, a leading maker of pharmaceuticals, said it will cut 300 jobs in Germany by year's end.
Banking giant BNP Paribas will buy back $2.25 billion of its stock by the end of next year, its new chief announced. He said the company, the largest bank by capitalization in the European Union, still would have sufficient resources for "an opportunistic and disciplined" strategy to acquire other financial institutions. BNP Paribas is based in Paris.
Shareholders in Clayton Homes Inc. OK'd the sale of the company to investor Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway group for $1.7 billion. Clayton, which is based in Maryville, Tenn., makes, sells, and finances mobile homes and operates mobile-home parks in 12 states. The shareholder vote came one day after a consortium of other high-profile investors decided against a competing bid.