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    Supplier Briefs

    News updates from Philip Morris, Pepsi, Coors and others.

    NEW YORK -- Top cigarette maker Philip Morris Cos. Inc. is widely expected to name an insider to succeed Chief Financial Officer Louis Camilleri when he becomes chief executive later this year, but people familiar with the company are still unsure who his successor will be.

    Whomever is selected will be responsible for the finances of a mammoth company with nearly $90 billion in annual sales and well-known brands including Marlboro and Benson & Hedges cigarettes and Miller beer, the Chicago Tribune.

    Some expect Nancy DeLisi, Philip Morris' treasurer, to be named to the job, as she has worked closely with Camilleri and has finance experience within Philip Morris. But others have speculated that Kraft Co-CEO Roger Deromedi, a longtime Kraft executive with brand management experience, is under consideration. Deromedi heads the international division of Kraft, responsible for about 25 percent of the company's annual operating revenue of almost $34 billion.

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    * The Nevada Juvenile Justice Program Office, in conjunction with Join Together Northern Nevada, Saint Mary's Community Wellness and the Washoe County Environmental Strategies Team unveiled a Web-based program to help combat underage drinking.

    The Web-based program is designed to help local businesses properly train any of their employees who serve or sell alcohol. The program includes a database of names of individuals who have successfully completed the training. This enables the local businesses and law enforcement to refer to the database regarding an individual's training history. For information contact, Evelyn Allen at [email protected].

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    * W.R. Grace & Co. has asked a bankruptcy court to stay a lawsuit it filed against a group of tobacco companies until another court decides an appeal in a similar suit brought by Owens Corning.

    W.R. Grace asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. to put on hold a suit it filed in Mississippi in March 2001. The suit was filed against companies such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Philip Morris Inc. and Liggett Group Inc. The lawsuit sought to recover amounts Grace had to pay to certain smokers or their representatives who were also occupationally exposed to asbestos.

    W.R. Grace and Owens Corning are seeking to use Chapter 11 to resolve billions of dollars in asbestos claims that have been asserted against them. A trial judge last year dismissed Owens Corning's suit upon finding that Owens Corning didn't suffer "direct injury" from tobacco products. The decision is currently on appeal.

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    * Adolph Coors Co., the number-three U.S. brewer, may join with another company to offer spirits-based drinks and plans to relaunch Zima, its flavored, clear malt drink, in core markets, the company said yesterday.

    Speaking to financial analysts and institutional investors in New York, Coors executives said the company would introduce new marketing for Zima, which has been a weak seller in recent years after a strong introduction. They did not provide details.

    Golden, Colorado-based Coors, known for such beer brands as Coors Light and Killian's, also said it would introduce a new product, which it called "Zima's wild cousin."

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    * PepsiCo Inc. has dissolved its joint venture with the Swiss pharmaceutical group, Novartis AG. The 50-50 joint venture between PepsiCo subsidiary, Quaker Foods, and Novartis, called Altus Food Co, was formed two years ago to develop cholesterol-reducing cereals and other products such as snack bars and smoothies with health benefits.

    The two companies said that a change of strategy at both groups had prompted the decision to terminate the venture.

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