SOUTHERN CROSS: The economic turmoil in Argentina has proved too much for De Rigo. The Italian eyewear maker is exiting its money-losing distribution joint-venture in the South American county by selling 51 percent of Ranieri Argentina SA to the Ranieri family, which will now control 100 percent of the company. The transaction price was not disclosed but De Rigo said the sale won’t materially affect its financial situation or results. The joint-venture has never generated a profit since its creation in 1998, registering a 2001 loss of $2.4 million on sales of $4.4 million, De Rigo said. (Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.) De Rigo, which makes eyewear for such brands as Prada, Fendi, Givenchy, Loewe and Céline, said it plans to keep selling its brands in Argentina through independent retailers.

STILL TALKING: Contract negotiations continue between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. Top ranking officials from both groups spent Monday and Tuesday touring the port of Los Angeles to discuss shipping technology. Union delegates representing all West Coast ports will gather the week of July 22, a meeting that would allow them to decide whether to pass a PMA contract proposal along to the general membership for a vote. But ILWU spokesman Steve Stallone denied speculation Wednesday that there’s a proposal ready for review.

DEUTSCHLAND DISCOUNT DRAG: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported Wednesday it will shutter two stores in Germany — its first retreat since entering the eurozone’s largest economy in 1997 — because of limited growth potential. One store will be closed in Ingolstadt while two stores will be merged into one in Welhelmshaven. At the same time, the discounter will open two new stores this summer in Gross Gerau and Berkamen, and a third in Berlin next year. Wal-Mart has struggled to become a dominant player in Germany due to customer loyalty to homegrown rivals and the depressed German retail market. Last year, Wal-Mart canceled plans to open 50 new stores in Germany by 2003.

WARNING TO KMART: Bankrupt Kmart Corp. said Wednesdayit has been notified by the New York Stock Exchange that its common stock could be subject to trading suspension and delisting within six months. The average share price of Kmart’s common stock for the past 30 days has been below $1, which is below the minimum requirement for continued listing on the exchange over a 30-day period. Shares Wednesday closed at 79 cents, down 2 cents. Kmart said that if its shares are delisted from the NYSE, it believes that an alternative trading venue will be available. Delisted companies often find a home in over-the-counter trading.

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