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Business Today

Outback brand gets new president

Published January 11, 2006

Debbie Eybers, president of Outback Steakhouse's Cheeseburger in Paradise brand, has resigned and will be replaced by Dennis Prescott, the Tampa restaurant chain said Tuesday.

Outback chief operating officer Paul Avery said Eybers, 52, is exploring other opportunities "within Outback and externally" that would involve less travel. Prescott, 45, is vice president of operations for Cheeseburger in Paradise, one of nine Outback brands.

AmSouth opening three local branches

AmSouth Bank will open branches this month in North Tampa, Carrollwood and Palm Harbor. The Birmingham, Ala., bank earlier announced a major expansion after having its growth restricted for more than a year after a federal money-laundering investigation. AmSouth said it will spend more than $150-million on 54 new branches on Florida's west coast, bringing its count in the state to 275.

Soil cleanup company moving to Clearwater

A California soil cleanup company will move its headquarters to Clearwater by the end of the first quarter. EarthWorks Environmental Inc. of Roseville, Calif., assembles and licenses proprietary equipment for remediation use on sites ranging from corner gas stations to oil fields in Alberta. EarthWorks expects to hire about 20 employees in Clearwater at salaries ranging from $30,000 to $40,000 a year. The company will get about $170,000 in state incentives, including a Qualified Targeted Industry Tax refund and a Brownfield Redevelopment bonus for its conversion of a warehouse on Lakeview Road into its new assembly plant and offices.

Crist sues Clearwater home care company

A Clearwater home care company and its president were sued Tuesday by Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist for selling allegedly fraudulent contracts to the elderly. Intrust Home Care and owner Roy F. Fitzgerald are accused of taking more than $146,000 from several dozen Florida residents who contracted for home care services that were never provided. Intrust's annual contracts, which were not regulated by a state agency, cost from $700 to more than $7,600 and included a six- to 12-month waiting period. Intrust was dissolved by the state in September and its phone has been disconnected. Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment. Crist's lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court and seeks restitution and up to $915,000 in penalties against Fitzgerald.

21 percent say lucky ticket is their retirement plan

Most Americans are pessimistic about their ability to save $200,000 in net wealth in their lifetimes, and more than one-fifth say the lottery is the most practical way for them to reach that type of goal, according to a new survey.

Just 26 percent of adults surveyed think they could accumulate $200,000 in net wealth in their lifetime, and 9 percent think they could collect $1-million, according to the survey of about 1,000 Americans by Opinion Research Corporation for the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association.

Twenty-one percent of those surveyed said a lottery would be the most practical strategy for accumulating several hundred thousand dollars. That percentage was higher among lower-income people, with 38 percent of those who earn less than $25,000 pointing to the lottery as a solution.

Some Americans "greatly overestimate their chances of hitting a lottery jackpot, and greatly underestimate their ability to build six-figure wealth by patiently making regular savings contributions over time," said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of CFA.

Eisner to host show on CNBC

Former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner will host a CNBC interview program that will be seen once every two months, the network said Tuesday.

Conversations with Michael Eisner will be an hourlong, prime-time show where Eisner speaks with business, entertainment or political leaders. His focus will be on creativity and innovation, he said. Business news channel CNBC did not say when the first show will air.

Low carb? Us? Not quite, Atkins says

Atkins Nutritionals has emerged from bankruptcy with a revised business model that hinges less on the popularity of the low-carb diet espoused by its founder.

The company said it isn't abandoning the legacy of the late diet guru Dr. Robert Atkins, who taught that people should eat foods rich in protein and limit their intake of carbohydrates.

But with the anticarb craze waning, the company is no longer publishing books about the Atkins diet and has jettisoned almost all of a once-broad product line that included low-carb bread, bagels, pasta, cookies and cheesecake.

Its new sole focus is selling Atkins Advantage protein bars and shakes, which have been around since 1997, but have been recently reformulated to taste better, said chief executive officer Mark Rodriguez.

Other chatter

IBM LEADS PATENT RACE: International Business Machines Corp., the world's biggest computer company, topped the list of companies receiving U.S. patents for the 13th year in a row. IBM received 2,941 patents last year, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

CLEAR CHANNEL A VIDEO STAR: Clear Channel Radio's online music and radio division has launched a "Videos on Demand" trial on 16 of its radio station Web sites in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis. Clear Channel is making available videos from thousands of artists from most major labels, including Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI Music and others. Clear Channel plans to expand its video service to other Clear Channel radio-station Web sites nationwide.

YAHOO, SHERATON BEGIN DOWNLOAD TRIAL: Yahoo Inc., the world's most-visited Internet site, is offering a one-month trial of premium services including music downloads to guests of four Sheraton hotels as the company looks for ways to add subscribers. The trial begins at Sheraton hotels in San Diego, New York, Boston and Stamford, Conn., said Javier Benito, chief marketing officer for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., which owns the Sheraton chain. Yahoo will also sponsor wireless Internet access in the lobbies of the San Diego and Boston hotels, said Yahoo brand marketing vice president Murray Gaylord.

Information from Knight Ridder Newspapers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News was used in this report.

[Last modified January 11, 2006, 00:41:19]

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