Business & Finance

An asbestos-claims agreement OK'd by a New York court is a landmark settlement that will base payouts on degrees of illness, the Financial Times reported. The case involves Manville Personal Injury Trust, set up following the bankruptcy of the Johns Manville building products group in 1982. The agreement may become a template for other companies facing an estimated $275 billion in asbestos claims, the paper said. The vast majority are filed by people who were exposed to the cancer-linked substance, but who show no symptoms of illness.

An official investigation is likely into the 11th-hour bailout of cellphone service provider MobilCom by the German government, a European Union executive commission source indicated. The $391 million rescue, which frees the company from having to file for bankruptcy, was agreed to late Sunday, one week before a crucial election that may turn on the nation's economic woes. The aid is expected to keep the company afloat for at least six months. MobilCom's chief said the company still would need to cut "several hundred" jobs, but a collapse might have thrown 5,500 employees out of work. Germany's Finance Ministry called the aid "a normal bank credit," but the EU source said: "This is not money for research and development.... State intervention needs to be examined. The German government needs to get in touch with us."

At least 4,300 jobs – and possibly as many as 6,500 – will be cut by the information technology division of Deutsche Telekom, sources familiar with the giant German company told the newspaper Die Welt. The publication said interim chief executive Helmut Sihler hinted at such a move, saying the company needed to "boost synergies, even if it hurts in some places."

WorldCom said it is cutting 2,000 jobs in its operations for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Chief executive John Sidgmore said the telecommunications giant is consolidating its WorldCom International unit as part of a new plan that stresses profitability over revenue growth. WorldCom's July bankruptcy filing is the largest in US corporate history.

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