Business & Finance

United Airlines secured a tentative agreement with the union representing its 23,000 ground workers on wage concessions worth $2.6 billion over six years. It is the latest in a series of such deals, with machinists the remaining holdout. The carrier has set a May 1 deadline for unions to agree on revised labor contracts. Otherwise, it threatens to ask a bankruptcy court to impose new ones.

Boeing Co. won a contract worth up to $2.25 billion to build 45 passenger jets for All Nippon Airways, Asia's second-largest carrier, the Bloomberg.com financial news service reported. Delivery of the first of the new generation 737s is slated for April 2005. Boeing beat out European rival Airbus for the order.

The takeover of DirecTV by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was expected to be announced by week's end, the Financial Times and other business news services reported. But neither News Corp. nor the would-be seller, General Motors and its Hughes Electronics subsidiary, would comment on the reports, which valued the deal at up to $7 billion. The parties resumed discussing the sale after federal regulators earlier this year blocked the acquisition of DirecTV's satellite operations by rival EchoStar for $18 billion.

Another 1,400 layoffs were announced by Qantas, the national airline of Australia, because of war in Iraq and the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) illness. The new round of job cuts was the second by the carrier in two months and the third since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.

Tecumseh Products Co., a leading maker of engines for lawn and garden equipment and compressors for air conditioners, announced the closure of its plant in Douglas, Ga. The move will leave 550 workers without jobs. Tecumseh said it will move the operation to Brazil.

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