Business & Finance

American Airlines announced it will cut 7,000 jobs, trim its fleet, and further reduce flights. The world's largest carrier said the new initiatives were part of a broader package to reduce operating costs by $1.1 billion a year. The announcement came a day after US Airways filed for bankruptcy and amid increasing concern that troubled United Airlines may be next. The industry has lost $10 billion since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and the charitable foundation of which he is sole trustee have been buying stock in a cable TV company that Microsoft is pursuing for a partnership deal, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Journal said the move raises questions about a potential conflict of interest or the appearance of one. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Gates personally, own a combined 5.8 percent stake in Cox Communications, which serves 6.3 million households nationwide. A Micro-soft spokesman told the Journal, "There's absolutely no connection between Microsoft's business dealings and the foundation." Such a link would violate the charity's tax-exempt status.

"Disciplinary warnings" for "unlawful business conduct" were proposed against local offices of securities giants Merrill Lynch and UBS Warburg by South Korea's Financial Supervisory Service. More than a dozen employees of the two companies also face such penalties as suspensions and pay cuts for their alleged roles in what the service calls improper disclosure of sensitive corporate research to favored clients before it was made public. The proposals followed a three-month investigation and, if upheld by the supervisory service's executive commission, could result in suspension of licenses to operate in South Korea. In May, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay federal authorities in the US a $100 million fine on virtually identical grounds.

In an all-stock deal valued at $3.5 billion, Cathay Financial Holding Co. will buy controlling interest in Taiwanese rival United World Chinese Commercial Bank, The Wall Street Journal reported. If OK'd by shareholders and regulators, the acquisition would be the second of its type in Taiwan in less than a week. Last Thursday, Fubon Financial Holding Co. agreed to pay $2.4 billion for Taipeibank.

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