Originally created 01/18/00

Business briefs: Nikkei closes high as policy unchanged



NEW YORK -- Stocks rose to a 29-month high in Tokyo on Monday as Japan's central bank left its monetary policy unchanged, a move that also boosted the yen against the dollar.

European markets also were modestly higher, with a new high reached by Germany's main index, as investors debated the merits of a $76 billion merger in the pharmaceutical industry.

U.S. financial markets were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei Stock Average rose 480.68 points, or 2.54 percent, to close at 19,437.23 points. It was the Nikkei's highest close since Aug. 8, 1997, when it ended the day at 19,604.46 points.

Apartment renovations completed

Atlanta-based The Wilkinson Group LLP, the new owners of Merrick Place Apartments on Skinner Mill Road, announced Monday the completion of a $1.2 million renovation project and grand opening Wednesday. The company purchased the 177-unit complex in June.

The company made interior upgrades as well as improvements to the property's exterior siding, landscaping and community center. The Wilkinson Group, which also owns Augusta's Oakview Place, owns more than 9,000 rental units in Georgia and Tennessee.

Franchisees urge against takeover

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- In a bid to keep Ben & Jerry's independent and socially active, some franchisees of the gourmet ice cream company are pressuring its board to abandon plans to sell the company.

But they also want to send a message to any suitor: "If by some miracle you are able to take us over, we're not changing. You have to change," said Michael Garrett, who owns four Ben & Jerry's stores in Connecticut and New York.

A majority of the 206 Ben & Jerry's franchise stores are encouraging customers to send postcards to the company's board members urging them to reject any takeover bid.

Thai banks poised for recovery

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Many of the larger Thai banks are set to become profitable early this year after a dismal 1999 that ended the worst downturn in recent history, analysts said Monday.

With loan-loss reserve building almost complete, and as debt restructuring begins to reduce problem loans racked up since Asia's economic crisis struck in 1997, large banks should post profits in 2000, analysts said.