Business & Finance

WorldCom Inc. said several rivals have expressed interest in its resale wireless operation, which it intends to sell as part of an asset-divestment effort to reduce its debt. The unit generates roughly $1 billion a year in revenues. Meanwhile, news reports said the long-distance phone and data services company also may cut as many as 16,000 jobs. Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom owes creditors $27.9 billion.

The board of Dell Computer Corp. OK'd a stock buyback of 250 million more shares under a program to offset stock-based employee compensation plans. The company said it expects to repurchase about 15 million shares this quarter, depending on price and market conditions.

Up to $12 billion in fines for price-fixing could be levied against three chemical producers, depending on the outcome of an investigation by the European Union Commission, reports said. TotalFinaElf of France, Akzo Nobel NV of the Netherlands, and Clariant Ltd. of Switzerland are accused of meeting secretly to carve up the market for an acid used in cosmetics, detergents, and herbicides. Under EU rules, a company found to have engaged in price-fixing can be penalized 10 percent of its annual sales.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will build 30 outlets in Australia over the next five years and is planning others in New Zealand, the company announced. The chain's only non-US store is in Toronto, but it also is considering expansion into Japan, South Korea, Spain, and Britain. Krispy Kreme is based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

As many as 1,800 jobs will be cut over the next five years as Germany's Bundesbank closes 56 branches, the company said in confirming news reports.

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