Business & Finance

Telecommunications giant Sprint may hire rival BellSouth's Gary Forsee as its new chief executive, a court arbitrator ruled Tuesday, ending a two-month dispute between the companies. Judge William Webster imposed several restrictions, however, including a one-year ban on Forsee's participation in merger and acquisition discussions.

In the troubled airline industry:

• A judge OK'd US Airways' plan to emerge from bankruptcy by March 31, although reorganization still hinges on reaching a pension deal with unionized pilots.

• United warned in a bankruptcy court filing that "liquidation is a distinct possibility" if it doesn't get the $2.5 billion in labor concessions under negotiation with unions.

• Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency put 11 airlines on its watch list for possible downgrades due to an anticipated drop in travel because of war with Iraq, the Financial Times reported. US carriers on the list include Delta, Continental, and Southwest. Among the others: British Airways and Germany's Lufthansa.

A jury in Texas ruled in favor of Bayer Corp. in a lawsuit that could have cost the pharmaceutical giant more than $560 million in damages. The plaintiff alleged that Bayer's controversial cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol (known outside the US as Lipobay) left him paralyzed. Baycol, now off the market, has been linked by federal authorities to 52 deaths around the world. The Texas case was the first of more than 8,000 to be tried; Bayer already has settled 450 other cases to the tune of $125 million. The plaintiff's lawyers said they expect to appeal the verdict.

Scandal-tainted oil-trading giant SK Global Co. won a three-month extension from South Korean creditor banks of its deadline to pay back $5.3 billion in debt. SK Global's troubles, which have been compared to those of bankrupt US energy trader Enron, have triggered an investigation into allegations that the company overstated profits by $1.2 billion and hid $875 million more in debt from investors.

Boeing Co. announced it will cut another 400 jobs by the end of next year at its Auburn, Wash., facility and that it will outsource more work. The aerospace company has laid off 30,000 workers since the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

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