After March Madness, a little May Rage

May 5, 2009

SOCCER-ENGLAND/With the end of the economic meltdown so tantalizingly close, and stock markets pricing in the spring thaw, The Consumerist’s annual Worst Company in America competition is just the tonic DealZone readers need to keep their prized sense of perspective appropriately tickled.

“It’s the bailouts versus the monopolies!” the Website’s news release rings out:

The annual 32-company battle royale has whittled itself down to the “final four”: Bank of America, Comcast, Ticketmaster and AIG. One of these disastrous companies will go on to join Halliburton (2006), RIAA (2007) and Countrywide (2008) as “The Worst Company in America.”

AIG and Ticketmaster face-off May 4th, Bank of America and Comcast face-off May 5th, the victors of those contests meet May 6th, and then the “winner” is announced May 7th.

The competition began with 32 companies separated into four brackets. Companies competed in head-to-head match ups and the winner of each match up was determined by the vote of Consumerist readers. The 32 companies included: AIG, Target, Peanut Corp of America, American Express, Walmart, HP, T-Mobile, Best Buy, Ticketmaster, TWC, Apple, United HealthCare, Verizon, Sprint, Home Depot, Citibank, Comcast, DirecTV, US Airways, Capital One, General Motors, United Airlines, Sears, Chase, eBay/Paypal, GE, Dell, Chrysler, AT&T, Circuit City, Starbucks, and Bank of America.

“AIG and Bank of America paved their way to the final four with exorbitant executive compensation packages, reckless management, and tax payer bailouts. Ticketmaster and Comcast drew the ire of voters because they were viewed as monopolies that consumers were forced to deal with,” said Meghann Marco,

Deals of the Day:

* French retail giant Carrefour has signed a preliminary memorandum of intent to buy 75 percent in Russia’s Seventh Continent and will make a final offer on May 15, a newspaper reported. Sources told Reuters last month that Carrefour had provisionally valued its takeover target at $1.25 billion.

* Commodity trader Noble Group raised its offer for Australian miner Gloucester Coal to A$490 million ($361 million), in a bid to scupper Gloucester’s planned deal with rival Whitehaven Coal.

* Sanofi-Aventis announced a 200 million euro ($265 million) plan to convert a factory to biotechnology, highlighting efforts by the world’s fourth largest drugmaker to penetrate the growing sector.

* Finland’s Metsaliitto said it will sell its 49.9-percent stake in state-controlled renewable energy firm Vapo to a consortium for 165 million euros ($218.4 million) to bolster its balance sheet.

* Azrieli Group said it submitted the winning bid to buy a 4.83 percent stake in Bank Leumi from Cerberus Capital Management and Gabriel Capital Corp.

* Zotye Auto, a Chinese maker of sport utility vehicles (SUV), is raising about 720 million yuan ($106 million) by selling a 20 to 30 percent stake to a private equity fund-led consortium, aiming for a Shanghai initial public offering later, sources said.

* Saab Automobile, the Swedish unit of struggling U.S. carmaker General Motors, said it was not in talks with Italian peer Fiat SpA about a takeover.

(PHOTO: Manchester United’s John O’Shea (R) celebrates his goal against Derby County during their English League Cup soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England January 20, 2009. Photograph taken on January 20, 2009. REUTERS/Darren Staples)

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