Business & Finance

Embattled auditor Arthur Andersen LLP is expected to announce layoffs today that, according to The New York Times, could affect as many as 7,000 of the Chicago-based company's 28,000 workers. Thousands more jobs are at stake in a tentative deal for rival accounting firm Deloitte & Touche to acquire the bulk of Andersen's tax unit. A Houston judge, meanwhile, will hold a hearing on a request by a group of insurers to block Andersen from selling off its assets. The insurers are among plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed over the Enron Corp. collapse.

KirchMedia was expected to file for bankruptcy following Friday's breakdown of talks in Munich and Los Angeles on a rescue plan for the deeply indebted German conglomerate. German creditor banks reportedly were discussing a proposal with publishing groups Axel Springer and WAZ to take a controlling stake in KirchMedia, once it is placed in administration.

Nearly a year after Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford ended a 95-year relationship amid a massive tire recall, a report surfaced Sunday that Japan's Bridgestone Corp. has concluded a contract to provide tires to General Motors Corp. Tokyo's Nihon Keizai economic daily said that in terms of the contract, Bridgestone/Firestone, the company's US unit, will provide an estimated 2.5 million tires a year for 500,000 vehicles.

German media giant Bertelsmann wants to take over Napster Inc., the Redwood City, Calif.-based online music service that was shut down by court order last year following a copyright infringement lawsuit. Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Middelhoff told the newspaper Die Welt, "We want to buy out the original shareholders." Following the lawsuit, Bertelsmann and Napster embarked on a venture to distribute music legally and the German firm extended about $85 million in loans to the ailing online service.

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