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Business Today

By wire services
Published November 26, 2003

AOL SUES EX-EXECUTIVE: America Online is suing its former chief of human resources, Gregory Horton, claiming that he bilked the company of $100,000 in a scheme to divert money to a sham company. In a suit filed Friday in Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Va., AOL claims that Horton and several associates conspired to defraud the company by having it enter bogus contracts, and then having the money sent to a shell company that they controlled. AOL fired Horton in August after reviewing the suspect payment. AOL said it later discovered what it called "a scheme to defraud AOL" after it reached a separation agreement with Horton.

KODAK BUYS PRINTING COMPANY: Eastman Kodak Co. of Rochester, N.Y., quickly shifting its focus away from photographic film, is delving deeper into the ink-jet printer market by acquiring Scitex Corp.'s digital printing division for $250-million in cash. Scitex Digital Printing Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, is the world's leading supplier of high-speed, variable-data inkjet printing systems. It mostly serves commercial and transactional printing markets. The world's biggest photography company said Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire Scitex's assets from its parent, Scitex Corp. Ltd. of Israel.

MAGAZINE PUBLISHER FOLDS: Vanguarde Media Inc., the publisher of Honey, Heart & Soul and Savoy magazines, is shutting down and ending publication with its January issues after being unable to secure further financing, the company said Tuesday. Vanguarde laid off about 70 editorial employees Tuesday and planned to file for bankruptcy court protection today in New York. Honey and Heart & Soul had monthly circulations of 400,000; Savoy reached 325,000, according to the company.

TREASURY AUCTION: The interest rate on the U.S. Treasury's four-week bills rose from a week earlier at the government's auction of the securities. The Treasury sold $23-billion of the bills at a discount rate of 0.940 percent, up from 0.920 percent last week. The return to investors was 0.955 percent for the bills, with a $10,000 Treasury bill selling for $9,992.70.

SUIT DEAL OFFERED: Household International Inc., a U.S. unit of the world's No. 2 bank by market value, said it proposed settling a lawsuit brought by borrowers and community groups over its U.S. lending practices. Household, a unit of London-based HSBC Holdings Plc, said the settlement includes reducing interest rates and waiving penalty charges for borrowers who have missed payments and are in danger of losing their homes. Household, based in Prospect Heights, Ill., will also fund programs to educate borrowers, it said in a statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

EURO-RIFT: Germany and France pushed through a deal with their euro-zone partners Tuesday allowing the European Union's economic powerhouses to sidestep fiscal rules so they can try to spend their way out of an economic slump. For the two nations, the EU's decision to let them run up a big deficit offers a welcome way out of economic stagnation. For Europe's central bank, it's a threat to the stability of the continent's infant common currency. Nations like Spain and the Netherlands say the move has choked the life out of fiscal restraint policies underpinning the euro. And the EU's executive Commission called the decision so bad that it is considering court action.

Earnings

H&R Block: The Kansas City, Mo., tax preparer said gains in its mortgage and investing business made up for the seasonal slowdown in its tax operation, allowing it to report its first second-quarter profit ever. The company also raised its earnings outlook for the year.

- Compiled from Times staff, wire and Bloomberg News reports.

[Last modified November 26, 2003, 01:34:18]

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