Originally created 04/11/98

Additional business news



Male-owned firms made women's list

NEW YORK -- Four-hundred-and-ninety-eight business owners were thrilled to make Working Woman magazine's list of the 500 largest female-owned companies.

But for No. 25 Lynn Johnson and No. 387 Gale Burkett, the rankings caused some chagrin.

Those who knew them well were quick to point out that they failed one key criterion: They are decidedly male.

"I've been called a lot of things, but never chairwoman," Mr. Burkett said.

In Mr. Johnson's case, perhaps the name of company should have been a clue: Johnson Brothers.

There were phone calls. There were titters -- enough, apparently, that Mr. Johnson declined to discuss the matter with a reporter. Mr. Johnson's name appeared in an abbreviated list that accompanied an Associated Press story about the rankings earlier this week.

"There's been enough giggles," his secretary said Friday.

Feds approve banking merger

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department approved the $16.6 billion merger of First Union Corp. with CoreStates Financial Corp. on Friday after First Union agreed to sell 32 branch bank offices in Pennsylvania with $1.1 billion in deposits.

To resolve the government's concerns that the deal would erode competition and increase the cost of banking, First Union agreed to sell 32 CoreStates offices in Philadelphia, in the Lehigh Valley and in Delaware and Montgomery counties. The sale, to one or more competitive buyers, is subject to regulatory approval.

Nestle sells old unused plant

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. -- Nestle Food Corp. has sold the plant it bought 10 years ago with the hopes of bringing 500 jobs and a major chocolate factory to Milledgeville.

The building, formerly owned by the giant pharmaceutical maker Kendall McGaw, had been kept up by Nestle, even though the candy maker long ago decided it did not need another chocolate factory.

On Thursday, Nestle sold the 320,000-square-foot building and its accompanying 47.5 acres of property to Milledgeville businessman Lawson Lawrence.

Mr. Lawrence did not disclose the final price for the property, which he plans to subdivide.

He said he already has a large restaurant chain as a prospective buyer for 540 feet of frontage on U.S. Highway 441 and plans to lease about half the building for warehouse space.

Nestle executives spent $4 million remodeling the plant to accommodate chocolate production. By early 1991, the company had abandoned plans for the 43-acre site.

Defense contractors respond

LOS ANGELES -- Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman told the U.S. Justice Department Friday that the proposed merger of the defense giants is not anti-competitive and that the government will benefit from savings of at least $1 billion a year.

The answer to a complaint by the Justice Department, which is seeking to block the $8.3 billion merger, was filed jointly in Washington. The companies argued that by selling certain businesses, the deal wouldn't hurt competition.

The filing estimated the savings at "hundreds of millions of dollars" while the companies said in a press release that the cost savings would exceed $1 billion annually and most of that would be passed on to the U.S. government.