Business & Finance

As much as $200 billion in investments has been pulled from the US by Saudis since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the figure may be about to grow, the Financial Times reported. If accurate – and some financial analysts were quick to cast doubt on the report – the amount would represent one-half to one-third of the funds Saudis are believed to have in American stock and bond markets, private equity funds, and real estate. The newspaper said the withdrawals signal "a deep alienation" between the two countries and a worry that Saudi assets in the US might ultimately be frozen. Moreover, Saudis are angered by a lawsuit filed last week by relatives of those killed Sept. 11 that seeks trillions of dollars in punitive damages against members of the royal family, banks, charities, and other institutions accused of financing terrorism. One financial consultant told the newspaper: "If the lawsuit is not thrown out of court, it will mean no more Saudi money in the US." Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis.

AOL Time Warner will buy out AT&T's stake in their joint venture, Time Warner Entertainment, in a cash-and-stock deal worth up to $9 billion. Under the deal announced Wednesday, AOL gains full ownership of Warner Bros. movies and the Home Box Office cable-TV channel, while AT&T will get 21 percent of newly created Time Warner Cable. Comcast Corp., which is buying AT&T's broadband unit, will inherit proceeds of the deal. Comcast, the US's third-largest cable operator, also reportedly is finalizing an agreement to offer a high-speed version of AOL's America Online Internet service to some customers.

Cendant Corp. agreed to acquire bankrupt Budget Group Inc. for $2.7 billion in assumed debt and $107.5 million in cash, The Wall Street Journal reported. If approved, the deal would make Cendant the second-largest car-rental company in the US. It already owns Avis and also is the world's top franchiser of hotels.

Siemens, the electronics and engineering giant, will cut 1,300 more jobs in its fixed telephone networks unit, a spokesman said. The layoffs will come on top of 16,500 in the division announced earlier by the German conglomerate.

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