Business & Finance

WorldCom was to file a detailed financial breakdown with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the Monitor went to press, with the latter vowing intense scrutiny. The telecommunications giant is charged with fraud and faces possible bankruptcy after acknowledging $3.8 billion in accounting irregularities. On NBC's "Today" show, SEC chairman Harvey Pitt said the American public "is entitled to a full accounting of what went wrong" at WorldCom. Criminal charges, he added, "may be too good for the people who brought about this mess."

After four months of wrangling, TRW Inc. agreed to a $7.5 billion all-stock takeover offer from rival defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp., reports said. Northrop also will assume $4 billion in TRW debt, they said. The merger would make Northrop Grumman the second-largest US defense contractor.

Vivendi Universal and its embattled chairman, Jean-Marie Messier, were not commenting on reports that he had agreed to quit rather than being forced out by unhappy board members. The Paris newspaper Le Monde said Vivendi's directors would meet Monday to appoint an interim chief, Jean-René Fourtou, a senior executive of the Aventis life-sciences company. Under Messier, Vivendi lost $13.4 billion last year, a French record, and its share price has slid 60 percent in value since Jan. 1. The company is almost $19 billion in debt. Messier, who transformed Vivendi from a relatively obscure water utility to an internationally powerful media conglomerate, was reported to be negotiating the terms of his departure.

It is only a matter of when – not if – the single European currency breaks above the "psychologically important" parity with the US dollar, analysts said, as the euro opened Monday at 0.9950 on key exchanges on the Continent. Last Friday, as markets were closing for the weekend, the euro briefly hit 0.9990, its highest level in almost 2-1/2 years, before sliding back to 0.9902. Its closing price Monday was expected to be influenced by the release of the latest key index of manufacturing activity in the US. As recently as October 2000, the euro hit its all-time low, 0.82 to the dollar.

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