Wednesday PM January 3rd, 2007

Verizon Communications to cut 54 jobs in Houston...Greater Houston Partnership reaches half-way point in "Opportunity Houston" fundraising...EGL's CEO and General Atlantic offer to acquire the Houston company...

Verizon Communications plans to cut 54 Houston jobs in the division that targets business clients and includes the former MCI. Verizon Business will discontinue customer-service operations at a Houston call center. The company notified the Texas Workforce Commission on December 15th that the jobs will be eliminated on February 23rd. Verizon completed its $8.5 billion purchase of MCI last January, saying it would eliminate 7,000 of the business division's 35,000 jobs over three years.


The Greater Houston Partnership has raised more than $20 million for "Opportunity Houston," its $40 million campaign to attract new jobs, capital investment and foreign trade. The Partnership's strategic plan is to attract 600,000 new jobs, $60 billion in capital investment and $225 billion in new foreign trade. Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane chairs the initiative, which targets the aviation and aerospace, energy and petrochemical, medical and biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology industries. Each of the ten area counties has committed to investing in the outreach. Founding investments were made by Shell Oil, Exxon Mobil, Citgo, Chevron, the Port of Houston Authority and others.


Logistics firm EGL reports its chief executive officer and private equity firm General Atlantic have offered to acquire the Houston company. Their offer would include James Crane's 18 percent stake in EGL's shares, plus $1.13 billion borrowed to finance the deal. Crane would stay as CEO, and senior executives participating in the deal would remain. The board has not made a decision on how EGL will respond to the deal.


Houston-based Cooper Industries has acquired New Jersey-based WPI Interconnect Products in a $74.5 million deal. WPI is a privately-owned maker of connectors and cable assemblies, providing products and services for military, industrial and commercial applications. Cooper is an electrical products manufacturer.


Crews have recovered nearly 30,000 gallons of crude oil that leaked from an underground pipeline into a farmer's field in Wisconsin. A spokeswoman for Houston-based Enbridge Energy says a four-foot crack the company's pipeline caused the spill, but what caused the crack remains under investigation. The Department of Natural Resources says the process of clearing away contaminated soils has started. The spill was discovered yesterday --about five miles southwest of Curtiss, Wisconsin. It covered about one-half acre of the field and the DNR says environmental damage is marginal. Enbridge Energy says the damaged section was cut out and replaced. The line should reopen by tomorrow.


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