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AOL, Time Warner shareholders okay deal

By Times staff, wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000

Shareholders of America Online Inc. and Time Warner Inc. overwhelmingly approved their planned merger. The deal had been valued at $160-billion when it was announced Jan. 10 but lost a considerable amount of value due to a subsequent drop-off in AOL's stock price. AOL fell $2.88 to close at $53.38. Time Warner shares dropped $4.06 at $77.56. At current levels, the deal is worth $120-billion.

INSURANCE CHIEF MOVES TO BLOCK NEW WINDSTORM RATES: Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson filed a cease-and-desist order that forbids the state-run insurer of windstorm coverage from imposing new, higher rates. The order had been expected since last week when a circuit judge in Tallahassee ruled the insurance group, the Florida Windstorm Association, could go ahead on July 1 with an average 96 percent rate increase for coastal homeowners required to have wind coverage. Nelson's office plans to appeal the ruling. Nelson argues the wind pool should not be allowed to send renewal notices to policyholders about the higher rates while the legal battle continues. He called for reimbursing customers who have started sending in the higher premiums. Ron Natherson, a spokesman for the windstorm association, said staff attorneys were reviewing the order.

SOFTWARE FIRM'S SHARES PLUMMET: Shares of Citrix Systems Inc. of Fort Lauderdale fell 18 percent after the company said chairman and founder Edward Iacobucci has resigned. Citrix, whose software lets programs using different operating systems work together, fell $4.06 to $18.69. The shares sank 46 percent June 12 after Citrix said second-quarter profit would be about half of forecasts. Since March, its market capitalization has plunged 85 percentto $3.5-billion.

PROBATION VIOLATION: Stephen L. Smith, caught running a $125-million pyramid scheme back in the 1980s, faces a second sentencing Aug. 24 for violating probation. The state will seek the maximum 27-year prison sentence, a prosecutor confirmed. Investigators said Smith bilked people of millions of dollars while running Winter Haven-based SH Oil and Gas Exploration during the 1980s. According to authorities, Smith, who served four years in prison, violated his probation by falsely reporting his source of income from May 1998 through August 1999, while acting as president and trustee of two companies. Terms of his probation prohibited Smith, 49, from establishing new businesses and required him to report all sources of his income.

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