Three private equity-investment firms have jointly bid to buy the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and two other restaurant chains that...

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AT&T painted a positive picture yesterday with what may be its final earnings report before becoming part of SBC Communications, topping Wall Street forecasts with third-quarter income of $520 million and boosting its revenue forecast for the second time this year.

The company, which in January agreed to be acquired by SBC for $16 billion, also expressed optimism the deal would close before year’s end, winning regulatory approval without concessions, such as asset sales or price freezes.

Despite the upbeat report, AT&T’s results reflected the competitive turmoil of the telecommunications industry, which has reduced the once-mighty company’s customer base by two thirds over the past decade — from roughly 60 million at the peak to less than 20 million at the end of the latest quarter.

Dunkin’ Donuts

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Three joint bids reportedly made

Three private equity-investment firms have jointly bid to buy the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and two other restaurant chains that are being sold by France’s Pernod Ricard, two sources involved in the process said yesterday.

The equal partners in the bid are Boston-based Bain Capital, Carlyle Group and Boston’s Thomas H. Lee Partners, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because their firms do not publicly comment on investment deals before they are finalized.

The consortium submitted a bid for all three properties of Canton-based Dunkin’ Brands on Wednesday, the sources said.


Losses blamedon capacity, prices

Maytag, the nation’s No. 3 appliance maker that is being acquired by bigger rival Whirlpool, yesterday reported a steeper-than-expected loss in the third quarter amid excess capacity and high prices for oil and materials.

Maytag reported a loss of $18.2 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with profit of $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales rose 6.5 percent to $1.26 billion. The results include restructuring charges of 2 cents per share, compared with 16 cents per share a year ago.

On that basis, Wall Street expected a 4-cent-per-share loss, the average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.


“Ulterior” motive rejected on revote

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it had no “ulterior purpose” for its swift revote on the independent chair mutual-fund rule, according to a brief filed in answer to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit.

The Chamber filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District after the SEC voted for a second time to pass a rule requiring the chairman and 75 percent of directors of a mutual-fund board be independent.

The vote was held at former Chairman William Donaldson’s last meeting at the agency, eight days after the rule was rejected by a federal court.

Compiled from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News

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