Business & Finance

Verizon Communications and two unions tentatively agreed on a new five-year contract late Thursday, ending four months of difficult negotiations and a threatened walkout by 78,000 workers in 12 states. The contract, which must be approved by union members, provides 3 percent cash bonuses, 2 percent annual raises, and protection against layoffs and involuntary transfers for current employees, although not for new hires. On another contentious issue, healthcare, Verizon agreed to continue paying full insurance premiums, although workers will face larger deductibles and copayments. Verizon serves the Northeast/ Mid-Atlantic region and is the nation's largest local phone company.

Boeing, which lost two multibillion-dollar commercial jet orders to European rival Airbus over the summer, also lost a $1.5 billion contract Friday to build attack helicopters for Spain's Defense Ministry. The order went instead to European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. (EADS), the Dow Jones financial news service reported. EADS, a three-year-old consortium, includes a Spanish company, Construcciones Aeronauticas SA.

Microsoft agreed to a $23.3 million settlement Friday with computer operating-system maker Be Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., which had accused the software giant of forcing it out of business. In May, Microsoft settled another antitrust lawsuit by AOL Time Warner's Netscape division for $750 million. Microsoft still faces two similar private suits and 12 state class-action suits stemming from a federal judge's ruling that it had acted as an illegal monopoly.

Three hundred employees were laid off at real estate magnate Donald Trump's casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., in an attempt to save at least $12 million a year. Among them, the Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Marina Hotel/Casino, and Trump Taj Majal Casino Resort experienced a 15 percent drop in gross operating profit in the year's first half.

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