Originally created 08/13/02

Business briefs



ImClone founder pleads innocent

NEW YORK - ImClone Systems Inc. founder and former chief executive Samuel Waksal pleaded innocent to insider trading and fraud charges, and said outside court that allegations against him should not detract from the potential of the biotech company's widely touted cancer drug, Erbitux, as a breakthrough treatment for cancer.

"Whatever happens to me, I know that this breakthrough therapy will one day make a real difference in the lives of many gravely ill people," Mr. Waksal said outside U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he made his first public comments on the charges.

The 54-year-old biotech company founder entered his plea to an indictment that included both the new charges of obstruction of justice and bank fraud and previous insider trading and perjury charges filed at the time of his June arrest.

Airlines call off fare war

DALLAS - The major airlines, led by Northwest and American, have called off a fare war that erupted this month over the highest-priced tickets, those for last-minute travel.

At the peak of the battle, some fares fell as much as 40 percent. But over the weekend, published fares for tickets with no advance-purchase requirement were back to their old levels.

Northwest on Saturday restored its pre-Aug. 1 top business and coach fares but also said it would give 5 percent to 10 percent discounts for customers who buy tickets from a travel agent or directly from the airline.

American, United, Delta and Continental matched Northwest's move to return business fares to their earlier, higher levels, while US Airways kept discounts on some routes, said Tom Parsons, chief executive of the online travel site Bestfares.com.

Trading of Conseco shares suspended

INDIANAPOLIS - Trading in shares of struggling insurance and finance company Conseco Inc. was suspended Monday by the New York Stock Exchange, which also is considering a move to drop the company from the exchange.

Conseco's shares have not traded since Thursday, when they closed at 34 cents, after setting a new 52-week low of 28 cents - a drastic fall from $9.98 in August 2001.

The exchange said it was taking the action because of Conseco's warning last week that it had delayed interest payments on two bond issues. The NYSE also cited the company's ongoing restructuring efforts.