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IN BRIEF

PPR’S MOUNTING DEBT: Standard & Poor’s reduced its rating on Prinault-Printemps-Redoute’s long-term debt to “BBB-minus,” the lowest level of investment grade. The debt, which now carries a stable outlook, had been rated “BBB.” The international credit watchdog also lowered PPR’s short-term debt to “A3” from “A2.” On a conference call, S&P analyst Hugues de la Presle, noted: “Even when factoring in no debt-funded external growth, we do not expect a very meaningful improvement in PPR’s debt measures in 2002 as a result of the group’s limited cash flow generation. This stems from the group’s sustained capital expenditure program in the coming years.” Capital expenditures could top $700 million annually. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange rates.

I WANT MY TPA: President Bush on Thursday renewed his push for quick Senate action on a bill expanding his trade negotiating powers and called for a vote no later than April 22. Attached to Trade Promotion Authority legislation will be a bill extending apparel trade breaks to Andean countries. TPA and Andean legislation already have passed the House, but are hung up in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Democrats want the bill to contain health benefits for workers unemployed due to import competition, which Republicans reject.

BURLINGTON EXCLUSIVITY EXTENDED: The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., extended Burlington Industries Inc.’s exclusive right to file a reorganization plan in its Chapter 11 case until Sept. 16, a spokeswoman for the mill said Thursday. That gives management more time to determine how to rework the company and prevents creditors from imposing their own solution.

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