Robert's Feed
Jun 21, 2010
via Summit Notebook

Ethan Allen fills up its (tastefully upholstered) bench

The recession wasn’t kind to Ethan Allen’s manufacturing plant workers, but now that the economy is recovering, so are the employment rolls. Last year, the Danbury, Connecticut-based furniture maker and retailer slashed its manufacturing workforce by about 30 percent, Farooq Kathwari, the company’s chairman and chief executive, told the Reuters Consumer and Retail Summit in New York on Monday. That included closing a plant or cutting jobs in Chino, California; Andover, Maine;  Orleans, Vermont and elsewhere.

I could not pinpoint exactly how many jobs he was talking about, and Kathwari did not immediately have the numbers handy, but according to the Ethan Allen website, it looks like they lost 65 workers in Chino and about 320 in Maine and Vermont. Meanwhile, the company said in 2009 that it planned to add some 300 more jobs to its larger facility in  North Carolina, where it had 540 employees as of a year ago.  The published numbers suggest that Ethan Allen cut a little more than 40 percent of its manufacturing staff, while Kathwari at today’s interview said it was about a third. Either way, he told us, “In about six months, about half have been added back.”

Jun 15, 2010
via Summit Notebook

Living wages at Xanadu Meadowlands? Think again, New Jersey


Do not expect the developer that’s working on the massive Meadowlands shopping and entertainment complex in northern New Jersey to compel its tenants to pay their workers a living wage. Related Companies, the New York-based real estate developer behind the project, said on Tuesday that it would be a deal breaker.

We talked to Stephen Ross, Related’s founder, chairman and CEO at our Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Summit, and after a while, talk turned to the stalled project, slated to open in 2011, four years after the 2007 planned opening date. Among other things, we learned that the name “Xanadu” isn’t happening anymore. Related, which took over the project after a bunch of lenders dropped out, has a list of other names, but wouldn’t share them with us.

Jun 15, 2010
via Summit Notebook

‘Take Me out to the Racetrack?’


The bulk of our conversations at the Reuters Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Summit deal with, well, real estate and infrastructure. On Tuesday, however, we got onto the subject of horse racing. Our guest was Gregory Cross, a lawyer at Venable LLP. He is the head of Venable’s bankruptcy practice and represented the state of Maryland, a creditor of Magna Entertainment Corp, which runs the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore and its famous Preakness Stakes horse race and filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

We asked Cross what could help ailing racetracks improve their financial performance. His answer? A little less Damon Runyon and Dick Francis, and a little more Black Stallion and National Velvet — crossed with Field of Dreams.

Jun 14, 2010
via Summit Notebook

LeFrak: We’ve been bunting for years

Watch out for Richard LeFrak when he’s at bat and you’re in the outfield. He has a tendency to bunt.

This is a funny baseball technique to use when most executives spend their time trying their best to hit home runs, but LeFrak Organization‘s chairman, president and CEO says it’s worked for his real estate empire, so there’s no need to stop now. When we asked him at our Reuters Global Real Estate Summit why his company didn’t borrow a ton of money during the real estate boom, he said:

Jun 4, 2010

Hungary, Eastern Europe debt fears gnaw at euro

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The possibility of a Hungarian debt crisis pushed the euro to a four-year low against the dollar on Friday and reignited fears more Eastern European nations could reveal financial frailties.

The new Hungarian government spooked investors and knocked more than 2 percent off its currency, the forint, versus the euro, after a prime minister’s spokesman said he supported the view the country had only a slim chance of avoiding the kind of debt crisis that plunged Greece into financial instability.

Jun 4, 2010

Washington Post fields several bids for Newsweek

NEW YORK (Reuters) – At least four interested parties appear to have submitted bids for Newsweek, the magazine that The Washington Post Co put up for sale on May 5.

Newsmax Media and Thane Ritchie, chief executive of Ritchie Capital Management, said they submitted bids. Private equity firm OpenGate Capital and Sidney Harman, the founder of audio equipment company Harman International Industries Inc, have expressed interest in the weekly news magazine, according to the New York Times.

Apr 9, 2010

Tribune gets creditor agreement on bankruptcy exit

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) – U.S. newspaper publisher
Tribune Co said on Thursday it has agreed with creditors on a
plan that would help it exit bankruptcy protection later this

The publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times,
which filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2008, said it
reached a deal with major creditors and lenders including
JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N>, Angelo Gordon, Centerbridge
Partners and its Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors.

Mar 9, 2010
via MediaFile

New York Times poaches Wall Street Journal spokesman Christie


Professional New York Times haters often fixate on the company’s seeming haplessness and its namesake newspaper’s flat-footed, delayed and defensive strategies for dealing with bad news, bad press and bad times for newspapers. Today the Times said it has hired Wall Street Journal spokesman Robert Christie, a move that could change this perception.

Christie, 40, has been the public voice of The Wall Street Journal through some of its most difficult moments in recent years. The most notable of those was when News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch decided that it and parent company Dow Jones would look good in his media menagerie and pried it from the hands of the Bancroft family with lots and lots of money as his WD-40. Christie, who joined Dow Jones in 2003, has been a staunch defender of the Journal’s reputation not only for the Bancroft family regime, but the Murdoch one too.

Feb 24, 2010

Thomson Reuters sees 2010 revenue flat to slightly down

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp <TRI.TO> <TRI.N> reported a lower quarterly profit and signaled that cutbacks by financial customers last year would continue to hurt revenue in 2010, sending its shares down 2 percent.

But the company also said net sales were positive in the fourth quarter, and it forecast a return to revenue growth in the second half of 2010. The impact of net sales on revenue is delayed because of the company’s subscription model.

Jan 20, 2010