Originally created 01/04/01

Business briefs



Office Depot closing 67 stores nationwide

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Office Depot Inc., the world's largest seller of office supplies, is closing 67 stores in the United States and three in Canada. About 1,520 jobs will be affected.

The closures of what the company called "underperforming stores" are in 18 states and Canada. Office Depot, which has annual sales of $12 billion, will close all of its stores in Boston, Phoenix, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

One store in Tennessee is the lone victim in the Southeast.

The company will still have 818 North American stores and still plans to open 50 new stores this year in regions that have proved profitable.

Utilities report losing billions

SAN FRANCISCO - Pacific Gas and Electric Co. announced Tuesday it expects to run out of cash by early February unless it raises rates, and Southern California Edison made it clear it expects customers to carry the full weight of its debt.

The two utilities have lost more than $9 billion because of soaring wholesale prices for electricity and a state-imposed rate freeze that prevents them from passing the higher costs on to their customers.

To make matters worse, they say, the financial crisis has hurt their credit rating, which affects their ability to borrow money to buy power and avoid blackouts. PG&E said last week that one-third of the 60 companies it buys power from no longer will sell to the utility unless it has cash in hand.

Newsprint maker cutting production

GREENVILLE, S.C. - The nation's largest newsprint maker, Bowater Inc., says it will cut production of market pulp by 12 percent this quarter.

Bowater on Wednesday described the reduction of 30,000 metric tons as an inventory adjustment. A company spokesman would not comment beyond the company's release.

In the past quarter, Bowater cut pulp production by 10 percent, or 25,000 metric tons. Pulp is the ground wood base used to make newsprint - the paper on which newspapers are printed - and many other papers.

While demand for newsprint grew with the stronger economy, producers have been retiring some older mills and switching others over to make more profitable types of paper.

Prices rose from about $480 a metric ton in September to about $610 in early December.

Bowater owns nine paper mills in the United States, Canada and South Korea.