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Old 12-28-2002, 02:02   #1 (permalink)
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Bridgestone to scrap Firestone brand name

TOKYO -- Bridgestone Corp., Asia's biggest tiremaker, will scrap the Firestone brand and appply the Bridgestone name for its tires sold worldwide, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported on its English language wire service.

The company will use the Bridgestone name in all new contracts to be signed with automakers in North and Latin America, Europe and other regions starting next year, the report said, citing unidentified company officials. It will keep the Firestone brand only for existing contracts and replacements in the U.S., the report said.

Bridgestone spokeswoman Setsuko Ozaki denied the report, saying the company will continue to promote Firestone as "a prime brand." The company earlier this month said that it will next month remove Firestone from two subsidiaries' names in the U.S. and Europe, but it'll keep the Firestone brand, she said.

Bridgestone is struggling to bolster its profitability and reputation that were hurt by a recall involving 6.5 million Firestone tires and Ford Motor Co. in the U.S. two years ago. Group net income fell four-fifths to 17.7 billion yen ($147 million) in 2000 and slid a further 2 percent in 2001.

Shares in Bridgestone rose 48 yen, or 3 percent, to 1,623 yen as of the 3 p.m. close of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. The Nihon Keizai published the report during the markets' lunch break.

The company earlier this month cut its group net income forecast by 43 percent to 40 billion yen ($333 million) for the year through Dec. 31, saying a one-time loss for revaluing assets in Europe will wipe out gains from rising sales.

By Ryoko Imaizumi and Junko Hayashi / Bloomberg News
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Old 12-28-2002, 07:36   #2 (permalink)
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Firestone tire name to remain, firm says

But N. American holding company's moniker will change

By Jeff Green / Bloomberg News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bridgestone Corp. said it will keep selling Firestone brand tires, denying a report in Japan's Nihon Keizai that it would scrap the 100-year-old name for tires worldwide.

The company will drop Firestone only from the name of the North American holding company, Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding Inc., said tire unit spokesman Dan MacDonald. The name will remain for the U.S. tire unit and on Firestone tires, he said.

"We're as committed to Firestone as we have ever been," he said. "It's a core part of our business. The consumer will notice almost no difference."

Sales of the Bridgestone tire brand in the United States increased 30 percent from last year, North American Chief Executive John Lampe said. Sales of Firestone tires have "stabilized" after recalls of million or tires two years ago, he said.

Nihon Keizai newspaper reported on its English language wire service that Japan-based Bridgestone would scrap the Firestone brand and apply the Bridgestone name for its tires sold worldwide.

Bridgestone is trying to bolster its profitability and reputation hurt by a recall involving 6.5 million Firestone tires used on Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer models in the United States two years ago.

The Japanese company's net income fell four-fifths to 17.7 billion yen ($147 million) in 2000 and slid a further 2 percent in 2001.

Bridgestone earlier this month cut its group net income forecast by 43 percent to 40 billion yen ($333 million) for the year through Dec. 31, saying a onetime loss for revaluing assets in Europe will wipe out gains from rising sales.
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