SARA LEE CORP.
The Chicago-based consumer products company said 127 jobs will be cut early this year, when it closes bakeries in Eau Claire, Wis., and Huntsville, Ala. Production from the Eau Claire bakery-which makes hamburger and hot dog buns and English muffins under several brand names-will be transferred to bakeries in Milwaukee; Marquette, Mich.; Rock Island, Tenn., and Sioux Falls, S.D. The Huntsville bakery’s production of hamburger and hot dog buns will move to Nashville, Tenn.; Mobile Ala., and Meridian, Miss.
The owner of four McDonald’s Corp. restaurants said the Oak Brook-based fast-food giant is requiring her to give them up because of corporate racism, the Connecticut Post reported. Deborah Sonnenschein, who is black and an 11-year owner of a McDonald’s franchise, said she has to relinquish three restaurants in Bridgeport, Conn., and one in Fairfield, Conn., because she had filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit, the paper said. Ms. Sonnenschein, speaking at a press conference, said McDonald’s used “exaggeration and falsehoods” about how she operated the restaurants, the paper reported. She said more than 100 franchises run by blacks out of 350 had been “turned over” in the past few years, the paper said. The fast-food company denied the charges, the paper said. A statement from McDonald’s faxed to Bloomberg News said two of Ms. Sonnenschein’s restaurants have fallen short of the company’s standards and necessary improvements haven’t been made. McDonald’s said in the statement that it’s willing to work with Ms. Sonnenschein.
BANK ONE CORP.
The Chicago-based bank agreed to pay 27 states $1.3 million and change the ways telemarketers sell products to its customers. The states began an inquiry after customers complained that telemarketers were charging them for products they didn’t intend to purchase. The $1.3-million fine will reimburse the states for the cost of the investigations. Bank One also agreed to make the telemarketers give more information about possible charges. A bank spokeswoman said the company implemented many of the announced changes three years ago, when the states first raised their concerns. Bank One did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
MID AMERICA BANK
The Clarendon Hills-based bank said it will open two branches in minority neighborhoods and invest $10 million in special home financing to settle a federal lawsuit alleging unfair mortgage lending practices. Under an agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Justice, Mid America promised to promote its home mortgage lending in communities with significant minority populations. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the Justice Department accused the 34-branch bank of avoiding minority areas when opening new branches and lending money. Mid America President Kenneth Koranda denied the allegations, saying they were based on 1990 Census data that don’t accurately reflect the changing demographics of the Chicago area. The bank currently has five branches in minority census tracts, Mr. Koranda said. However, he said the bank chose to settle the case to avoid the time and expense of prolonged litigation.
The North Chicago-based pharmaceuticals company won early approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market a new rheumatoid arthritis drug expected to generate $1 billion in annual sales. Abbott estimated that Humira sales will reach $150 million this year, but warned that the costs of launching the drug may reduce 2003 earnings.
Itasca-based First Midwest Bancorp Inc. named John O’Meara president and CEO, replacing his brother Robert O’Meara, 64, who retired. . . . Formerly chief operating officer, John, 56, will continue as CEO of First Midwest Bank. . . .Chicago-based apartment building owner Equity Residential named President Bruce W. Duncan, 50, to the additional role of CEO. Mr. Duncan replaces Douglas Crocker II, 62, who retired. . . .Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, a non-life-threatening condition that can be treated with medication, after he and his wife were hospitalized with stomach flu. Maggie Daley, who cracked a rib when she fainted, stayed overnight at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, while doctors kept the mayor for two nights to run cardiac tests. He returned to work last Monday.
Accenture Ltd. The Chicago-run management consulting and technology services company said it won a seven-year, $200-million outsourcing deal from Telecom Italia SpA. The agreement calls for Accenture to provide Italy’s No. 1 wireless and fixed-line operator with outsourced payroll processing and administration services. Accenture also will acquire Tess, a payroll processing business, from Telecom Italia for about $8 million, the companies said.
Tribune Co. The Chicago-based media company said it will acquire two WB Network affiliate TV stations from Santa Ana, Calif.-based Acme Communications Inc. for about $275 million. The addition of KPLR-TV in St. Louis and KWBP-TV in Portland, Ore., will boost the number of Tribune-owned TV stations to 26, including 19 WB affiliates.
Big City Radio Inc. The Hawthorne, N.Y.-based broadcaster, which in November said it would sell all its radio stations to pay down debt, agreed to sell four Chicago-area stations to two operators. WDEK-FM in DeKalb, WKIE-FM in Arlington Heights and Kankakee’s WKIF-FM will be acquired by a unit of Florida-based Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. for $22 million in cash, and Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. of Dallas, the country’s largest Spanish-language radio broadcaster, said it agreed to buy WXXY-FM in Highland Park for $33 million.
Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports met federal deadlines to screen all checked luggage for explosives by Dec. 31. . . .The Illinois Commerce Commission will impose stricter service standards on SBC Illinois as part of a plan to minimize service declines as the Chicago-based phone company lays off hundreds of workers statewide. The company said tightening the service standards is unnecessary. . . .Commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. said it will cut 300 jobs, or about 4% of its staff, as demand weakens.