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12/19/2006

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WisBusiness Tuesday Trends
December 19, 2006

By Brian E. Clark

RISING

UW-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has been named a "Kauffman Campus" and received a $5 million grant to establish non-business school entrepreneurship courses and programs.

The grant was awarded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City foundation dedicated to entrepreneurship and education. The award is part of the Kauffman Campuses Initiative, which was launched in 2003 with the awarding of $25 million in grants to eight schools for the establishment of entrepreneurship courses in liberal arts, engineering and other disciplines outside of the business school.

The university received another feather for its cap when The Economist Intelligence Unit rated the business school’s open-enrollment executive education programs as the best in the world for the second year in a row. The Economist surveyed more than 200 senior executives who attended executive education programs. They rated programs on factors including course content, impact, faculty, amenities, fellow participants, post-course support and value received.

MIXED

Midwest Air

AirTran Holdings has Milwaukee business, political and labor leaders in a tizzy, thanks to its hostile takeover bid for Midwest Air. Some said they did not want to lose the corporate headquarters of Midwest, while others said they feared that service would be downgraded and jobs would be lost if the two airlines merged.

But the $290 million offer by Orlando-based AirTran to pay what it said was a 37 percent premium over the 30-day average closing price got the attention of some shareholders. (AirTran offered $11.25 per share on Oct. 20.  That offer was rejected Dec. 6.) Before AirTran disclosed its bid last week, Midwest's shares were trading around $9 a share.

And at least one attorney -- Guri Ademi of the Ademi & O’Reilly law firm -- reportedly contemplated suing the Midwest board for not negotiating. AirTran’s CEO Joe Leonard visited Milwaukee as part of a full-court public relations press. The company also took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Journal Sentinel, pledging to boost the number of employees, improve service and increase shareholders’ value. Shares of Midwest closed Monday at $11.72, down from the recent run-up of $12.15. AirTran's stock closed Monday at $12.49, down from its 52-week high of $18.85.

FALLING

Stora Enso

The Finnish parent of Wisconsin-based Stora Enso North America is denying that it conspired to fix the prices it charged for coated papers used in magazines and high-volume catalogs in the United States.

The company said it will enter a plea of not guilty when it appears before the court at the arraignment to respond to the indictment. The indictment -- from a federal grand jury in Connecticut -- alleges that Wisconsin Rapids-based Stora Enso North America illegally set prices through an agreement with competitors from about August 2002 to June 2003.


Written exclusively for subscribers. Tuesday Trends is Copyright © 2006.



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