McAfee, CNet CEOs step aside over stock-option scandal

SAN FRANCISCO - The chief executives of McAfee Inc. and CNet Networks Inc. stepped aside Wednesday to atone for stock-option chicanery that occurred on their watch, expanding the list of business leaders swept up in a messy scandal that is erasing profits and spurring government investigations.

McAfee, a leading maker of anti-virus software, parted ways with George Samenuk, who retired as its chairman and CEO after nearly six years on the job. The Santa Clara-based company also fired its president, Kevin Weiss.

CNet, which runs a stable of technology news and entertainment Web sites, accepted the resignation of co-founder Shelby Bonnie.

Gannett reports third-quarter decline

NEW YORK - Gannett Co., the largest newspaper publisher in the country, reported a 12 percent decline in third-quarter earnings Wednesday on weaker advertising, stock option expenses and one-time gains in the same period a year ago.

Gannett, whose properties include USA Today and 89 other daily newspapers in the United States, earned $261.4 million in the three months ending in September, down from $297 million in the comparable period a year earlier.

R.J. Reynolds agrees to stop marketing flavored cigarettes with sweet imagery

ALBANY, N.Y. - R.J. Reynolds has agreed to a domestic ban on flavored cigarettes such as ''Twista Lime'' and ''Mocha Taboo'' that critics say are marketed to youths. But a deal struck with 40 states exempts the company's new experimental ''smoking lounge'' in Chicago and allows the company to sell flavored cigarettes in the future if the packaging doesn't emphasize sweet imagery, the company and state officials said Wednesday.

The tobacco giant settled a broad investigation of its domestic sales and marketing without paying any penalty, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Ford recalls 145,000 vehicles

WASHINGTON - Ford Motor Co. is recalling about 145,000 vehicles to fix latches that could let in water and drivetrains that could fracture, the automaker said Wednesday.

Ford is recalling 139,537 2005 Five Hundred and Mercury Montego sedans and 2005-06 Freestyle crossover vehicles either sold or registered in 31 cold-weather states. The automaker said the side-door latch could allow water intrusion, which could cause the latch to freeze in cold conditions and allow the door to open in traffic.

Sovereign Bancorp CEO resigns

PHILADELPHIA - Jay Sidhu, who turned Sovereign Bancorp Inc. from a small savings and loan into an $89 billion financial powerhouse, resigned Wednesday amid criticism of a deal he engineered with a Spanish bank that bypassed shareholder approval.

The company announced early Wednesday that Sidhu had resigned as president and chief executive officer after 17 years at the helm.

- From wire reports