Musical chairs at News Corp.
Dow Jones said that CEO Richard Zannino will step down after News Corp. takes over the company next week. Long-time News Corp. executive Les Hinton will succeed him. Also, Robert Thomson, the editor of The Times of London, will replace Gordon Crovitz as publisher of The Wall Street Journal. (The Wall Street Journal) In other changes, James Murdoch, the 34-year-old son of News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch, is taking over the company’s European and Asian media operations, leaving his job as CEO of News Corp. cable company BSkyB. That’s “a very logical transition,” said Larry Haverty at Gamco Investors. “Rupert gave him a very tough assignment and he passed it with flying colors.” (Bloomberg)
Ex-HealthSouth chief settles up
Ex-UnitedHealth CEO William McGuire agreed to forfeit a total of about $620 million to settle federal stock-option backdating charges and a shareholder lawsuit. (The Wall Street Journal) The give-back includes $320 million in stock-option gains, $100 million in retirement funds, and $200 million he had agreed to surrender when he was ousted in 2006. He will also pay a $7 million penalty. “Is this the pound of flesh?” said CRT Capital analyst Sheryl Skolnick. “It’s a significant portion to surrender.” The settlement was the first to use the Sarbane-Oxley Act’s “clawback” provision, which requires executives to return stock profits earned while a company was misleading investors. (Reuters)
Surfing while flying
JetBlue Airways is testing free in-flight wireless Internet starting next Tuesday, and other airlines are not far behind. American, Virgin America, and Alaska Airlines are planning to introduce paid wireless service in the next few months. (The New York Times, free registration required) On JetBlue, most passengers will only have access to email and instant messaging through Yahoo! But Expedia Travel Trendwatch editor Chris McGinnis said business travelers can forward their corporate email to Yahoo! “If they can at least get access to e-mail, it would take care of a lot of the demand,” he said. (AP in
For Christmas, paper or plastic?
About 28.6 million Christmas trees were harvested in the U.S. last year, worth $1.2 billion. But Americans also bought 9.3 million reusable plastic Christmas trees, mostly from China, and now about half the trees put up in U.S. homes are plastic. Tree growers are fighting back this year, promoting real trees as natural, safe—no Chinese lead—and American-made. “You can have a natural product or a petroleum-based product in your house,” said Oregon tree grower Jan Hupp. “Are you going to send your wife plastic flowers or fresh-cut roses?” (The New York Times, free registration required)