Business & Finance

The path to Hewlett-Packard's $18 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp. appeared clear after the deal's main critic, Walter Hewlett, said he was ending his opposition. His announcement came after a Delaware chancery court rejected his lawsuit to nullify results of H-P's March 19 shareholder vote approving the deal. Hewlett, son of one of H-P's founders, said although he still opposed the merger, the largest in computer-industry history, he'd work to ensure its success in the interest of shareholders.

Troubled WorldCom Inc. named a new president and chief executive. John Sidgmore replaces Bernard Ebbers, who resigned Monday at the request of the board of directors. Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom is struggling under $28 billion in debt, an 80-percent stock decline this year, and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Following Tuesday's announcement, WorldCom shares gained 13 cents, or 5 percent, to end at $2.48 on the Nasdaq stock market.

ABC-TV president Steven Bornstein stepped down Tuesday. His departure after less than a year in the post comes just two weeks before the network – lagging in third place overall in current network ratings and fourth among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers whom advertisers prefer – is due to unveil its fall lineup.

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Ignoring pleas for moderation, members of the powerful IG Metall, Germany's largest labor union, voted overwhelmingly to strike for higher pay beginning Monday. The 2.8 million-member union is expected to target such industrial giants as Siemens and automakers DaimlerChrysler and Porsche. In recent contract negotiations, IG Metall lowered its wage-increase demands from 6.5 percent to 4 percent, but the talks collapsed when employers offered 3.3 percent over 13 months, plus a one-time cash bonus. Unless it is settled quickly, the strike is projected to have a major impact on Germany's Sept. 22 election.

Aeon Co. Ltd., the international retailing giant, will lay off 1,000 workers by March, a spokesman said. The Chiba, Japan-based company owns or franchises more than 3,000 stores, among them The Body Shop and Laura Ashley chains. It also has a joint venture with the Sports Authority chain and owns 60 percent of The Talbots, a high-quality women's apparel retailer.

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