Business Notes

Staff On Jul 9 2001 - 6:00am




Donald Leaves DirecTV Post, Name Austin CFO

EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. — Hughes Electronics chief financial officer Roxanne Austin has been named president of DirecTV. She replaces Odie Donald, who resigned to explore other opportunities, according to a statement from DirecTV. Donald is to remain a consultant with the company through the end of this year.

Panasonic DVD Video Recorder Wins Best Of Show Award

NEW YORK — Panasonic was honored with a CNET/PC Expo Best of Show Award at PC Expo here late last month in the Personal Technology category for its DMR-E20, a second-generation DVD video recorder that allows consumers to digitally record high-quality MPEG2 video on both DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs. The product is designed to take full advantage of the DVD-RAM format's capabilities, including simultaneous playback and recording, and a function that lets users view the recorded portion of an ongoing program from the beginning, while continuing to record the live program in progress. It can create original DVD video by recording images into DVD-R discs conforming to DVD video standards, and allow users to transfer VHS tape recordings to the space-saving and higher quality discs. Users can record up to 12 hours of video on new two-sided 9.4GB DVD-RAM discs. Suggested retail is $1,499.95.

Gillette Focuses On Revitalizing Duracell Battery Business

NEW YORK — Gillette's new chairman/CEO, James Kilts, told financial analysts here that despite the company's legacy of great brands, including Duracell batteries, Gillette has a record of chronic underachievement. To restore top battery performance, he said the company's short-term focus is to stabilize market share, aggressively reduce costs and improve organizational effectiveness. Addressing market-share declines in Gillette's Duracell business — where sales fell 5 percent, from $2.7 billion in 1999 to $2.6 billion in 2000, and year-over-year profits were down 28 percent — Kilts said he is confident that Duracell's position will stabilize. He blamed organizational disruption, trade loading and flawed decision-making in pricing and market segmentation for Duracell's lower share, despite category growth. The company has already announced a $100 million marketing campaign this year for Duracell, which will include increased marketing support for the segment's core Copper & Black brand, newly renamed Coppertop.

Damark Changes Name To Provell, Shifts Direction

MINNEAPOLIS — Damark International has changed its name to Provell and replaced its former Nasdaq trading symbol to PRVL. In a restructuring and change in direction, the company has closed its catalog business to focus on selling through its shopping club memberships. Provell develops, markets and manages membership and customer relationship management programs. Its programs provide purchase-price discounts to consumers and small businesses in the areas of shopping, travel, hospitality, entertainment, health/fitness and finance. Damark did $90 million in consumer electronics sales in 2000, according to the TWICE CE Retail Registry.

Rayovac Stock Offering Proceeds Intended To Reduce Debt

MADISON, WIS. — Battery manufacturer Rayovac has filed a prospectus supplement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed underwritten public offering of 7.5 million shares of Rayovac common stock priced at $19.50 per share. Of these shares, 3.5 million will be offered by Rayovac and 4 million will be offered by certain selling shareholders of Rayovac. Net proceeds from the offering will be used to finance the repurchase of Rayovac's outstanding 10.25% Series B Senior Subordinated Notes, due 2006. Rayovac has commenced a tender offer to purchase for cash all $65 million principal amount of the Series B notes outstanding.

The company will not receive any portion of the proceeds from the sale of shares of common stock by the selling shareholders.

Sanyo Energy Opens Rechargeable Battery Factory in Mexico

PLANO, TEXAS — Sanyo Energy (Texas) L.P. has opened a custom-built rechargeable battery factory in Monterrey, Mexico. The facility is producing lithium-ion rechargeable battery packs for the communications market, with production of nickel metal hydride battery packs scheduled for start-up in July. Sanyo has had a battery-making plant in Tijuana, Mexico since 1970.

Best Buy $300 Million Debenture Sale Helps Finance Musicland Deal

MINNEAPOLIS — In order to replenish the liquidity it used to purchase Musicland and Magnolia Hi-Fi, and to refinance higher-interest rate bonds that were retired in March and May, Best Buy is selling $300 million in convertible debentures. The initial purchasers of the securities have a 13-day option to purchase an additional $45 million in debentures to cover over-allotments. The debentures mature in 20 years and would not be callable until June 2004. The debentures would be convertible into shares of Best Buy common stock at a conversion price of $86.87 per share, a 37 percent premium over the $63.41 closing price on June 21, if the closing price of Best Buy's common stock exceeds $104.24 for a specified period of time. Best Buy said the financing takes advantage of favorable market conditions and adds to its strong financial position, giving it more flexibility in uncertain economic times.

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