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Swimming in record profits, Royal Dutch/Shell will buy back up to 3 percent of its shares this year, the company announced. The move, which is scheduled to begin as soon as today, could return more than $6 billion to stockholders. Shell reported a revenue jump of 85 percent - to $13.1 billion - in 2000.

Bankrupt Trans World Airlines, which American Airlines has planned to take over, received a new bid from an independent group of investors. Newly formed Jet Acquisitions Group Inc., which said its wants to preserve TWA as an independent carrier, offered almost $1 billion, about twice the size of the American bid. TWA has continued operations during bankruptcy proceedings, which have included the court extending a deadline for bids until Feb. 28.

As expected, the $29 billion offer by Lloyds TSB, the third-largest bank in Britain, for mortgage specialist Abbey National was turned down, the second such rejection since mid-December. Abbey has received preliminary permission from regulators to merge with the Bank of Scotland, although no details of the proposed deal have emerged.

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Verizon Communications indicated it would cut the equivalent of 10,000 jobs this year, mostly by not filling vacancies and reducing overtime and the use of contractors. A spokesman said the move shouldn't result in widespread layoffs and explained the reduction was part of an ongoing effort to eliminate positions duplicated by last year's acquisition of GTE.

In other layoff news:

*Barnesandnoble.com said it would cut 350 employees, or about 16 percent of its workforce. The layoffs are to occur within the administrative staff in New York as well as through closing distribution centers in Kentucky and New Jersey.

*Stamps.com, which sells postage over the Internet, laid off 150 more workers. The company cut 240 positions last October.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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