Daily Dispatch: General Motors, Avaya, JetBlue, Whole Foods

Last Updated Jun 5, 2007 3:23 PM EDT

  • In a speech to General Motors shareholders, chairman Rick Wagoner declared that it was critical for the company to move away from petroleum-powered cars. GM has been losing market share in the United States as high gas prices lead consumers away from larger cars, trucks, and SUVs -- which GM is known for -- and towards smaller cars. Although a shareholder measure on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was defeated, Wagoner touted GM vehicles that can run on either gasoline or E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol), as well as two new contracts to develop lithium-ion batteries for electric and fuel cell cars.
  • Telecom company Avaya has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm TPG for $8.2 billion. With the recent consolidation in the telecom industry and Avaya's small size (compared to rivals like Cisco), Avaya has been considered a prime candidate for a takeover. To differentiate itself from competitors, the company will redirect its business towards the convergence of voice and data systems, allowing companies to program voice communications just like other automated processes.
  • A recent poll from Consumer Reports reveals that JetBlue is ranked number one in customer service. The initial poll was conducted in February just before ice storms forced JetBlue to cancel almost 1,200 flights, then scramble to repair their image with passengers. Remarkably, a follow-up poll in April found that the cancellations had little effect on consumers' opinion. That's what happens when you have truly loyal customers, eh?
  • Whole Foods and Wild Oats, the largest and second-largest natural foods retailers, announced that they would fight the FTC's plans to block their planned merger on the grounds that it would have an anti-competitive impact on the natural and organic food market. The merger would help the stores compete with larger, more mainstream grocery chains such as Wal-Mart and Kroger who are beginning to offer more natural and organic food selections in their stores.