5 Big Stories

A look back at the week in business

By Jeff Harrington, Times Deputy Business Editor
Published May 13, 2007

1. OxyContin execs plead guilty

Three current and former executives of Purdue Pharma, the maker of the painkiller, had been accused of misleading the public about concerns over the drug.

WHAT IT MEANS: The executives and company will pay $634.5-million in fines in what is a sharp reversal for the company, which has a history of defeating lawsuits from patients who said they had become addicted to OxyContin.

2. Outback puts sale on the back burner

OSI, the parent of Outback Steakhouse, delays a vote to sell the company to private investors.

WHAT IT MEANS: Backers of the sale are under immediate pressure to convince shareholders that the $40-per-share offer is fair or restructure the deal. It's an embarrassing blow to the Tampa restaurant chain but one increasingly common in an era of investor activism.

3. Car loan rates ding blacks

A federal study finds minorities are paying higher auto loan rates.

WHAT IT MEANS: A consumer group's analysis found that blacks paid a typical loan rate of 7 percent for new cars compared with 5 percent for whites in 2004. But recent court settlements might narrow or eliminate that gap.

4. JetBlue CEO steps aside

David Neeleman, founder and CEO of the scrappy airline, becomes non-executive chairman.

WHAT IT MEANS: Neeleman acknowledges he's more of a big picture person than day-to-day exec. The shift may help the carrier move beyond memories of the Valentine's Day ice storm that left thousands of passengers stranded and some stuck on a runway for up to 10 hours.

5. Florida's fresh biotech pitch

The state sends a record number of attendees to last week's Bio International Convention in Boston.

WHAT IT MEANS: Capitalizing on the backdrop of the industry's biggest annual gathering, Florida wants to tout the recent big-name lures here such as Scripps and the Torrey Pines Institute. And drop a few lines to hopefully hook the next big catch.