tampabay.com

Fed leaves prime interest rate untouched

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 10, 2007


WASHINGTON

The Federal Reserve held interest rates steady, extending a nearly yearlong period of stability that has positives for savers and borrowers. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his central bank colleagues on Wednesday left an important interest rate unchanged at 5.25 percent, where it has stood since last June. The decision was unanimous. The Fed's decision means that commercial banks' prime interest rate - for certain credit cards, home equity lines of credit and other loans - stays at 8.25 percent. Borrowers had suffered through two years of rate increases. But the current period of steadiness can help them regain their footing by paying down or consolidating debt, experts said, and predictable rates can help with investment decisions.

Little Rock, Ark.

Suitors lining up to make bids on Alltel

Alltel Corp. is in talks with three competing buyout groups, including one that pairs the Carlyle Group with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Blackstone Group and Providence Equity Partners combined to form another team, while TPG Capital joined with the leveraged-buyout unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for a possible bid, the people said. The mobile-phone company's shares rose to $66.56, the highest level in more than seven years, after the negotiations were reported. The boost gave Alltel a market value of about $23 billion. Private-equity firms may bid almost $70 a share for the company, said Michael Nelson, an analyst at Stanford Group Co.

San Francisco

New laptops use upgraded Centrino

Intel Corp., the world's largest semiconductor maker, demonstrated new laptop personal computers based on an upgraded version of its best-selling Centrino product, part of a plan to shift more sales to portable PC chips. The latest version of Centrino, a group of chips that work with Intel's Core 2 Duo microprocessor, will provide laptops with better graphics, longer battery life and faster loading of software, Intel said.

Chicago

Microsoft invests in online jobs site

Microsoft Corp., the world's largest software maker, bought a 4 percent stake in CareerBuilder.com to lure more job seekers and advertisers to its MSN Web sites. With the transaction, newspaper companies Gannett Co., Tribune Co. and McClatchy Co. reduced their stakes in CareerBuilder, said Jennifer Sullivan, the site's spokeswoman. Gannett and Tribune now own 40.8 percent of the company, and McClatchy has 14.4 percent. The St. Petersburg Times, an independently owned newspaper, and Monster.com have teamed up to create tampabay.monster.com, where job seekers can search for openings and get advice on their careers.

MINNEAPOLIS

Creditors support Northwest plan

Northwest Airlines said that 97 percent of its creditors overwhelmingly approved its bankruptcy reorganization plan, another key step on its way toward emerging from bankruptcy protection next month. Final results will be filed in bankruptcy court in New York later this week.