Business & Finance

General Electric and its two largest unions reached tentative agreements on new four-year contracts, hours before the previous contracts expired. The company and unions, which could have gone on strike beginning June 26, said the proposed agreements would improve wages, pensions, and benefits, although terms were not divulged. Ratification votes on the new deals by union rank and file may be held as soon as this week, reports said.

Airbus Industrie, the European rival of Boeing Co., won a $12.5 billion order for 41 new planes from Emirates, the fast-growing airline based in Dubai. Aviation experts said the deal is a record for wide-body jets. Twenty-one of the planes will be 555-seat superjumbos, according to reports from the Paris Air Show, where the deal was announced. The carrier also said it plans to lease 26 Boeing 777s, although only four of them will be new planes.

Verizon Communications and Vodafone are abandoning their joint $2 billion investment in Iusacell, the second-largest - but deeply indebted - provider of cellphone service in Mexico, the Financial Times reported. They blamed regulatory inaction for Iusacell's inability to better compete with Telcel, which controls three-quarters of the market, the newspaper said. Iusacell will be handed over to an investor who already is struggling in the wireless market. Ricardo Salinas Pliego agreed to pay $10 million for Iusacell, which owes creditors $811 million, the Times said. Vodafone is the world's largest cellphone service provider. Verizon is the No. 1 local phone company in the US.

The chipmaking subsidiary of electronics giant NEC's will

try to raise $1.2 billion next month in one of the largest initial public offerings of the year, the Financial Times reported. It said pricing for the IPO shares is expected to be set July 14, with the sale on the Tokyo Stock Exchange following in 10 days.

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