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.

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