Business & Finance

Enron Corp.'s $10 billion lawsuit against rival Dynergy Inc. for abandoning a proposed merger last November will be fought in Houston, the companies' home turf. Bankruptcy Court Judge Arthur Gonzalez made the ruling Friday in New York, where Enron had filed the suit along with its bankruptcy Dec. 2. Dynergy had argued that most witnesses, documents, and issues central to the dispute are in Houston, along with the companies' headquarters. It claims it properly invoked its right to walk away from the $8.4 billion merger because Enron didn't fully disclose its financial woes. Enron charges that Dynergy proposed the merger as a ruse to ruin Enron's finances and take over its Northern Natural Gas Pipeline.

In other Enron-related news, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday challenged a retention-bonus plan for 1,285 "key employees" at the bankrupt company, saying Enron must more fully disclose why the payments, which could add up to $130 million, are warranted. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Tuesday.

A senior executive at Vivendi Universal, Denis Olivennes, resigned Friday as chief operating officer of the French media giant's pay-television arm, Canal Plus SA. He and Canal Plus chairman Pierre Lescure had objected to public criticism last month from Vivendi's chairman, Jean-Marie Messier. Messier has been under pressure himself as Vivendi share prices have decreased sharply in value. The company's recently posted $12 billion loss for 2001 was the largest in French corporate history.

Mizuho Holdings Inc., the world's largest bank by assets, warned Friday that it would take a loan-loss charge of $17 billion, leaving it with a net loss of $7.7 billion for the business year that ended March 31. The warning of what would be Japan's largest-ever corporate loss is partly the result of stricter government inspections into bad loans. According to official figures, Japan's top lenders are carrying about $282 billion in bad loans.

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