Business & Finance

Business software giant Oracle Corp. raised its hostile takeover offer for rival PeopleSoft by almost 24 percent, to $6.3 billion. On June 6, Oracle offered $5.1 billion. PeopleSoft claims Oracle's tactic is an attempt to derail its planned merger with a third maker of software, J.D. Edwards & Co. Oracle also announced plans to sue both companies, plus PeopleSoft's board of directors, for attempting to keep the matter from a vote by shareholders.

Microsoft filed 15 lawsuits accusing so-called spammers in the US and Britain of collectively flooding its systems and customers with billions of unsolicited messages. The suits address misleading, deceptive, and offensive e-mail, such as for get-rich-quick schemes and promotions for websites that feature pornographic content. The lawsuits accused both individuals and companies of violating laws in Washington State and the United Kingdom.

Shareholders in troubled El Paso Corp., the nation's largest pipeline company, handed its incumbent executive board a victory over a new slate of directors proposed by dissidents. The vote, at the company's annual meeting in Houston, ended a bitter, months-long battle and signaled that shareholders weren't angry enough about the company's 90 percent drop in value over the past two years to punish its leadership, analysts said.

Federal regulators should nullify the proposed $6.6 billion merger of satellite broadcaster DirecTV with media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp, a new filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) contends. Rival EchoStar, whose own attempt to buy DirecTV for $18 billion was blocked by the FCC last year, said in a 70-page brief that combining the two enterprises would reduce the programming choices available to consumers and would lead to higher fees. It also notes that Murdoch's home country, Australia, does not reciprocate by allowing competition from US satellite broadcasters. The FCC is considering whether to approve the DirecTV-News Corp. merger.

In layoff news:

• Another 520 jobs will be cut this year by Canadian Pacific Railway, the carrier announced. Earlier, CPR said it was furloughing 300 workers in 2003 and planned to let 450 more go over the next two years.

• Financial services giant UBS said it will begin immediately to follow the lead of its rivals and reduce its investment banking work force by 3 percent, or about 500 jobs. Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch already have begun the same process.

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