Business & Finance

MCI is under investigation by federal prosecutors over allegations that it disguised long-distance calls as local calls to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in access fees to other carriers, The New York Times reported. Executives at MCI, formerly WorldCom, pledged an internal review but said they believe the claims by three rivals (as well as by former MCI officials) to be unfounded and possibly aimed at derailing the company's emergence from bankruptcy.

Qualcomm, the top US mobile-phone chipmaker, sued its closest rival, Texas Instruments, launching what could be a lengthy legal battle over a top-selling product: chips based on code division multiple access (CDMA) technology, the Financial Times reported. The suit, filed in a Delaware court, accuses Texas Instruments of violating terms of a December 2000 patent portfolio agreement and seeks unspecified damages and termination of the deal. Qualcomm is based in San Diego.

Urgent meetings are scheduled Monday and Tuesday between British Airways executives and union leaders to try to resolve a dispute that caused cancellation of hundreds of flights last week, stranding 90,000 passengers and costing the carrier almost $50 million in lost revenue. Unionized employees staged a wildcat strike at London's Heath-row Airport over a new electronic swipe-card system that tracks their hours. Europe's largest airline is seeking to cut costs, and the Bloomberg.com financial news service quoted chief Rod Eddington as warning it could be forced into bankruptcy if unions block those efforts.

A $2.5 billion offer for department-store chain Debenham's PLC is expected Monday from Permira, one of Europe's leading private investment funds, and reports said the former's board has recommended conditionally that shareholders accept it. Debenham's, based in London, operates 100 stores in Britain and Ireland, franchises others in the Middle East, and has been planning expansion into Malaysia.

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