April 1998


  • World News Today... daily headlines and abstracts
  • Citicorp and Travelers Group Announce World's Largest Financial Services Merger
  • World's Biggest Book Publisher Becomes Twice as Big as its Nearest Rival
  • Asia's Ad Industry Spending in Decline
  • Bulgaria Moves Towards Privatization
  • New York City Remains Hometown to More of the Fortune 500
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  • NEW YORK, USA -- Citicorp and Travelers Group announced plans to merge, to form the world's leading financial services company -- Citigroup Inc. Together, this company will serve more than 100 million customers in 100 countries. The merger is valued over US$140 billion. Present management will remain in place, with John Reed and Sanford Weill, continuing to serve as Co-Chairmen and Co-Chief Executive Officers of Citigroup.

    Mr. Weill commented, "Because the world economy changes at an unprecedented pace today, and regions, markets, continents and businesses are more and more interdependent, consumers, corporations, institutions and governments around the globe increasingly need a financially strong and reliable source for financial advisory services and products. Serving the needs of this demanding and diverse universe requires a company with unprecedented characteristics: an extraordinary global infrastructure, formidable capital resources, unquestionable stability, and the broadest spectrum of first quality, cost effective and efficiently distributed financial products and services. Together, we will be that company."

    Plans are for Citicorp to merge into Travelers Group, which will apply to become a bank holding company. Present rules regarding this sort of merger restrict bank holding companies from participating in insurance underwriting activities; but both Citicorp and Travelers anticipate reform. They expect that the laws will change in their favor -- thus making the US more openly competitive in the global business environment.

    Meanwhile, the US stock market's Dow Jones average closed above 9,000 for the first time in history, prompted by the news of this mega-merger.

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    GERMANY -- Bertelsmann AG, the world's largest book publishing house, announced plans to purchase Random House. This approx. US$1.3 billion acquisition will make Bertelsmann's Bantam Doubleday Dell twice the size of its largest remaining US publishing rival and will increase revenues from US$900 million to US$1.5 billion a year. For Europe's largest media company, this aggressive move increases Bertelsmann's competitive stance in the US market.

    According to industry sources, Random House's sales were around US$1.1 billion in 1997, compared with its major US counterparts Penguin/Putnam -- with about US$890 million in sales and Bantam Doubleday Dell with US$650 million.

    Also be on the look-out for Bertelsmann's entry to the online book-selling business, where they will soon be competing head-on with leading booksellers -- Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

    Bertelsmann is the world's third largest media company with annual sales of US$13.6 billion (DM25 billion).

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    ASIA -- Due to currency devaluation and recessionary economic pressures, Asia's advertising industry spending is projected to decline by 20% by the Year 2000, according to Zenith Media. Among those leading in declines are Indonesia's formerly US$2 billion advertising industry -- now valued at just US$500million; and South Korea's drop in half -- to just US$4 billion. Until recently, S. Korea was the world's 7th largest market for advertising.

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    BULGARIA -- The ongoing privatization process continues to change Bulgaria's macroeconomic situation. Bulgaria is undergoing internal economic reforms while making changes in its foreign policy. Last month, Trade Minister Valentin Vasilev, acquainted the business community of Austria with Bulgaria's reforms and established a Bulgarian Trade Office in Vienna. Meanwhile, at home, the Cabinet outlined a program to develop Bulgaria's capital market economy. The plan calls for US$1.4 billion in shares to be offered at the stock exchange by the Year 2000. Plans also include selling the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company, the National Electric Company, Bulgartabak, Bulgargas, Neftochim, and the navy, among others, by the end of 1999.
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    NEW YORK, USA -- According to Fortune, in 1997, 12% (or 61) of the Fortune 500 companies are located in New York. Three-quarters of these companies have headquarters in New York City. California is home to the second highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, with 52 companies there, followed by Illinois with 41 and Texas with 36. The fifth most populous state is Ohio, with 30. Reader's Comments
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    LAST MINUTE TRAVEL BARGAINS -- Special Discounted Fares

    American Airlines' Net SAAver and Net SAAver International offers last minute travel bargains for travelers departing from the USA. You can schedule a last minute meeting or a weekend getaway to selected destinations throughout the USA, Europe, the Caribbean, Central America or South America each week and benefit from these discounted rates.

    Through this program, you can fly at discounted rates, as long as you can plan to travel on short notice. These low round-trip fares are good for travel only on the dates specified. They expire on Fridays. Check back each Monday for the week's destinations!

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    [Restrictions apply. Check with American Airlines or our travel service group for details and confirmation. Not responsible for typographical errors.]

    International flight departures must be on Thursday or Friday, April 9 - 10, 1998. Thursday departures return anytime the following Monday and Friday departures return anytime the following Monday/Tuesday. To take advantage of these last minute bargains, or any travel needs, Call 1-800-715-4440 and ask for a Net SAAver Domestic or International Fare. Be sure to give the agent this PIN#: 27035 to book your flight. Or send e-mail to travel@pangaea.net, include your name and telephone number, please.

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    Updated 4/7/98