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The Biz Roundup April 3

Guess finding all that loose change around didn’t help

Fritz Henderson, the new chief executive of General Motors, gave his most forceful message yet to debt-holders and unions, saying a clean balance sheet was “not negotiable” and could “very well happen” through bankruptcy. . . .

Bondholders can negotiate, he said, but “the over-riding objective of a clean and healthy balance sheet is not negotiable”.

“If we have to resort to bankruptcy then we’re going to do it fast . . . there are non-traditional ways to do this but it requires a fair amount of force, will and leverage and we have force, will and leverage.”

(“GM chief fails to rule out bankruptcy,” Financial Times, April 3) Now we’re talking. It takes a mighty talented CEO to use negotiating from weakness into an effective threat.

What happens when the news goes out of business, union-busting edition.

The New York Times Co. has threatened to close the Boston Globe if it can’t get the paper’s unions to agree to $20 million in concessions, the Globe reported on its Web site Friday.

Executives from the Times Co. met on Thursday with leaders of the 13 unions representing Globe employees, according to the report, which cited union officials. Among the possible concessions the Times Co. is seeking are pay cuts and the elimination of pension contributions and lifetime job guarantees for certain employees, the report said.

(“Times Co. Threatens to Close Boston Globe ,” Wall Street Journal, April 3) The Times doesn’t mess around with bankruptcy, like GM. It goes straight to the negotiating table with keys in hand ready to lock the door for good.

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