Business & Finance

Vodafone, the world's No. 1 mobile communications service, posted one of the largest yearly losses in corporate history – $19.7 billion. At that, however, it wasn't as large as analysts had expected, and company executives said they had "every confidence in the continued growth potential of the business." The writedown was a tacit admission, the analysts said, that the British cellphone giant had paid inflated prices to acquire AirTouch Communications of the US (for $56 billion) in 1999 and Germany's Mannesmann group a year later (for $147 billion, the largest hostile takeover in history).

Offering still more proof that the communications industry slump isn't over, Deutsche Telekom announced it will cut 22,000 jobs over the next two years. The partially state-owned German giant also plans to sell off some real estate holdings and its stake in a cable TV enterprise when "the conditions are right," its chief executive said. Deutsche Telekom lost $3 billion last year and another $1.6 billion in this year's first quarter. It also is $60 billion in debt.

The board of Dynegy Inc. accepted the resignation of Chuck Watson, chairman and chief executive of the troubled energy trader, and named a pair of interim replacements. Houston-based Dynegy, which last year backed out of a deal to buy now-bankrupt Enron Corp., has seen its own stock values tumble more than 80 percent in the past 12 months.

Coca-Cola will pay $8.1 million in back wages to 2,000 current and former employees after determining they were underpaid, The Wall Street Journal reported. The move followed a US Labor Department review of pay practices at Atlanta-based Coke and a broader internal one by the company. The vast majority of the pay discrepancies involve female workers, the soft-drink giant said.

Halliburton Co. reached a settlement in 30 more asbestos lawsuits, the Dallas-based energy and construction company said. No amount was given, but a spokesman said the terms were consistent with "historical averages for these types of claims." Since 1976, more than 200,000 asbestos claims have cost Halliburton $162 million, including a $30 million damage award in December. It still faces 292,000 such claims.

In a deal valued at $3 billion, British Petroleum will buy the 49 percent of Germany's Veba Oel it doesn't already own from electric utility giant E.ON, the companies announced. BP paid $2.5 billion for the first 51 percent of Veba in February.

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