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Gibson pushes back against bankruptcy talk, hires new CFO

Gibson is pushing back against reports of an impending bankruptcy and has hired a new chief financial officer, who starts with the company Monday.

Officials with Gibson Brands, Inc., maker of the famed Les Paul and ES-335 electric guitars, released a statement saying the company has met all “current obligations to the bondholders, is in the process of arranging a new credit facility to replace the bonds, and fully expects the bonds to be refinanced in the ordinary course of business.”

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In the statement, Gibson Chairman and Chief Executive Henry Juszkiewicz said: “These bonds expire as all fixed income instruments do at the end of their term.”

He said also that the company has been working with Jefferies investment bank to manage the refinancing process.

“While the musical instrument and pro audio segments have been profitable and growing, they are still below the level of success we saw several years ago,” Juszkiewicz said.

Also, officials with the Nashville-based company said that Benson Woo will return to Gibson as the company’s chief financial officer today.

>> Related: Gibson guitar company, maker of the Les Paul, facing bankruptcy after 116 years in business

Said Juszkiewicz: “We are excited and pleased that Benson with be coming back to the Gibson Brands family. He has a great knowledge of the industry, our current businesses and is liked and respected by everyone at Gibson and with whom he dealt. We are confident he will contribute to moving the company forward.”

Woo had previously served with Gibson in 2016. He replaces Bill Lawrence. 

The CEO said the company is “streamlining” and will focus its Philips brand consumer audio business on those products that have “greater growth potential,” as well as eliminating product segments that fall below expectations.

While Gibson has been struggling to re-pay debt, an officer with Moody’s Investors Service has told the Nashville Post that the company’s core guitar business remains sound.

“The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one,” Kevin Cassidy, of Moody’s, told the newspaper. “But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”

Gibson was founded in 1894 and makes musical instruments, as well as consumer and professional audio. Juszkiewicz acquired Gibson in 1986 with fellow investors. The company has a portfolio of over 100 well-recognized brand names.

All aboard: Disney Cruise Line looks for workers to man its ship kid clubs

If you’ve dreamed of working on the high seas, then Disney is looking for you.

The cruise line that Mickey built is hiring youth activities counselors to live and work on its fleet of cruise ships, Metro reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The hours are long, according to Metro, at 80 hours a week, but the job offers fun and amazing ports of call in Mexico, Barcelona and Disney’s private island Castaway Cay.

The job posting opened in December, but it appears that the cruise line is still recruiting.

But not anyone can apply or be hired. You have to have two years’ recent experience working with children in a “high-volume, fast-paced recreational/camp environment.”

Among the other qualifications:

  • Must be able to command the attention of large groups of children
  • At least 20 years old
  • Work a seven-day 70-84 hour work week with limited time off
  • Adhere to Disney Cruise Line appearance guidelines

It would also help to be bilingual in Spanish or Portuguese and have experience working with children with special needs.

If chosen, cruise line cast members live with a roommate on board the ship and also must be willing and able to follow and lead the shipboard emergency procedures.

The positions are for any of the four Disney ships: the Wonder, Magic, Fantasy or Dream, and Disney’s private Bahamian island, the Liverpool Echo reported.

Click here to apply.

Report: Winn-Dixie owner preparing for bankruptcy, up to 200 stores could close

Winn-Dixie owner Bi-Lo is preparing for bankruptcy, according to a Bloomberg report.

>> Read more trending news 

Up to 200 stores could close as part of a bankruptcy filing, Bloomberg reported. According to Winn-Dixie's website, the retailer has locations in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The bankruptcy filing could come as early as next month, Bloomberg reported. 

Bi-Lo has not publicly confirmed any bankruptcy plans.

Traditional grocery stores have faced increased competition from online retailers like Amazon.

Gun manufacturer Remington to file for bankruptcy

The Remington Outdoor Company, one of America’s largest firearm and ammunition manufacturers, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching a deal Monday with its creditors, according to multiple reports.

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Company officials said in a news release that a prepackaged reorganization plan will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The deal will give control of the company to its lenders, Bloomberg News reported.

Remington seeks to lower its $950 million debt load, Reuters reported. The company’s executive chairman, Jim Geisler, said in a statement that “difficult industry conditions make today’s agreement prudent.”

“I am confident this regrouping ensures that Remington will continue as both a strong company and an indelible part of our national heritage,” he said.

Officials with Remington, the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Connecticut shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in 2012, said the agreement with lenders will reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital.

The company was cleared of any wrongdoing in the 2012 shooting, but investors repulsed by the massacres distanced themselves from the company's owner, investment firm Cerberus Capital Management.

The company’s debtors include JPMorgan Asset Management and Franklin Templeton Investments, Reuters reported. They will trade their debt holdings for equity in Remington as part of the deal unveiled Monday.

A bankruptcy filing under Chapter 11 allows a company to reorganize and stay in business as the company works to repay debtors. Officials with Remington said in a news release Monday that the company will continue to operate as normal as the restructuring process gets underway.

“Importantly, the fundamentals of our core business remain strong,” Reminton CEO Anthony Acitelli said in a statement. “We have an outstanding collection of brands and products, the unqualified support of a vibrant community across the industry and a deep and powerful culture. We will emerge from this process with a deleveraged balance sheet and ample liquidity, positioning Remington to compete more aggressively and to seize future growth opportunities.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Applebee’s offering $1 Bahama Mamas all February

Applebee’s is kicking off February by offering $1 Bahama Mamas all month.

The restaurant chain said in a Thursday news release that the drink, called the Dollarmama, will be available from open to close at participating locations.

>> Read more trending news 

According to Applebee’s, the drink is made with white rum and a mix of lime juice, pineapple juice and orange juice, with hints of coconut and cherry flavors.

“We’re proud to introduce our own unique twist on the popular Bahama Mama drink to our guests,” Patrick Kirk, vice president of beverage innovation at Applebee’s said in a statement. “We know Applebee’s fans are going to love the tropical fruit flavors of the new recipe we created just for the Dollarmama. For $1 you can experience the perfect winter getaway in a glass.”

Last year, Applebee’s offered its spins on a margarita for $1 throughout October and a Long Island Iced Tea for $1 throughout December. It appears the chain is offering a similar $1 drink deal every other month, so fans could expect another one in April.

Find out which locations are participating in the Dollarmama offer at Applebees.com.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to partner on U.S. employee health care

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced they will create a health care company for their U.S. employees that is "free from profit-making incentives."

The companies say they are partnering on health care to increase employee satisfaction and reduce costs. 

The trio of companies will work with an independent company that is free from the constraints of profit-making incentives. 

>> Read more trending news 

The initial focus of the new company will be on technology that will provide their employees with high-quality, reasonably priced health care.

“The ballooning costs of health care act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country’s best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes,” said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett.

“The health care system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Hard as it might be, reducing health care’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

The company is in the initial planning stages.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story.

California bill suggests fine, jail for giving plastic straws to restaurant patrons unless asked

A California lawmaker’s proposed bill that would greatly affect the food industry is facing heavy criticism.

California State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, sought to address pollution by focusing on plastic – specifically, plastic straws, KGTV reported.

>> On Rare.us: Organizers arrested in California for allegedly feeding the homeless

According to Calderon’s bill, a server who offered a plastic straw to a restaurant patron without first being asked would face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans,” Calderon argued in a press release. “AB 1884 is not ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”

>> Read more trending news 

The bill reportedly would apply only to waiters in sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast food establishments. Calderon also expressed his intention to dump the bill’s harsh penalties, according to Reason.

Despite the reasoning, several have criticized the proposed legislation as an example of government overreach.

Some even offered their own suggestions.

Others have accused the bill of being inspired by unreliable data on the number of plastic straws the public uses.

Amazon Spheres open in Seattle

Technology giant Amazon will hold a grand opening ceremony Monday for its long-awaited Spheres in downtown Seattle.

>> Read more trending news

The three spheres, at Seventh Avenue and Lenora Street, will open to the public Tuesday by appointment.

>> On KIRO7.com: Amazon spheres to be filled with exotic plants

The eye-catching domes, which are the newest additions to Amazon’s downtown campus, are between 80 and 95 feet high and feature five floors of office space. There are no enclosed offices, conference spaces or desks. Company officials said the idea was to create an urban oasis for employees to work and socialize in.

The project has garnered interest since it was launched -- not just because of how the structures look, but because of the jungle that is housed inside.

More than 40,000 plants from more than 30 countries were brought in to fill the domes, which are the newest additions to Amazon's downtown campus. Amazon is paying a full-time horticulturalist to tend to exotic plants and trees and to be a resource to the public as well.

>> On KIRO7.com: Photos: Giant spheres pop up in Denny Triangle

According to the architectural firm that built the spheres, the temperature inside the structure will stay between 68 and 72 degrees for 12 hours each day, with the average humidity seen in Seattle.

At night, the temperature will go down to 55 degrees and the humidity will be pushed to 85 to 90 percent, to help the plants grow.

>> On KIRO7.com: Photos: Massive tree 'Rubi' takes root in Amazon Spheres

Guided tours of Amazon’s headquarters, including the Spheres, are also available, but those interested will have a long wait – tours are already booked through June.

To learn more about the spheres, visit: https://www.seattlespheres.com/ 

VTech recalls 280,000 baby rattles due to choking hazard

Federal officials announced a recall Thursday of thousands of baby rattles sold nationwide due to a choking hazard.

>> Read more trending news

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that VTech is recalling its Shake and Sing Elephant Rattles after receiving reports that the ears on the rattle can break, posing a choking hazard.

No injuries have been reported, although VTech company officials said they have received at least five reports of broken rattles.

The rattles, model No. 80-184800, are about 7 inches long, with a purple elephant body, ears in yellow and blue and a black and white teething ring. The number 1848 is printed on the back of affected rattles, next to the battery door. When switched on, the rattles sing, according to VTech officials.

The company is offering refunds for the rattles, which were sold between November 2015 and November 2017 for about $8. The rattles were also sold online on Amazon.com and zulilly.com and at stores including Walmart and Kmart.

Customers who bought the rattles can contact VTech for a refund.

In a separate notice, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that VTech was also recalling its Lights & Lullabies travel mobiles because the clamp used to hold the mobiles to cribs can break, posing an injury hazard.

Panera Bread recalls cream cheese products over listeria fears

Panera Bread has issued a recall of all cream cheese products from its U.S. bakery cafes over fears of listeria contamination.

The chain said the recall was out of "an abundance of caution" after samples of one product from a single production day showed positive for listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Exposure to the bacteria can cause fever and diarrhea, with particularly dangerous symptoms for pregnant women and unborn children. 

>> Read more trending news 

Products recalled have an expiration date on or before April 2, 2018. 

The recall includes all 2 oz. and 8 oz. cream cheese products

The associated facility stopped production, as well. 

According to the CDC, about 1,600 people become infected with listeria each year, killing about 260. 

If you have these products, discard them immediately and contact Panera Bread Customer Service at 1-855-6-PANERA from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. CST Monday through Sunday or visit panera.custhelp.com for a full refund.

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