Business & Finance

Ford Motor Co. launched a $3 billion corporate bond sale Tuesday, its first unsecured debt issue in more than a year, the Financial Times reported. The move followed announcement of a tentative deal on a new four-year contract for union workers and is a sign of rising investor confidence in Ford's restructuring amid a sales decline, the newspaper said.

Royal Dutch/Shell announced it will invest $1 billion - in partnership with Sibir Energy of Russia - in western Siberia's Salym oilfield. The Financial Times reported that the expenditure will come despite the failure of the partners to win a tax exemption for the project and the threat by local authorities to revoke Shell's license because the company failed to meet its exploration target. The Salym field is estimated to hold 880 million barrels of crude, the first of which are expected to flow by late 2005.

Under pressure from indignant customers, the new chief of deeply troubled international supermarket operator Royal Ahold NV said he'll give up the bonus he was awarded, plus his guaranteed severance package. Anders Moberg was to receive an extra $3.4 million for his first two years at the helm at a time when the company has admitted massive accounting irregularities and is laying off hundreds of employees. His severance benefit could have been worth another $10 million. Public anger at the size of the two payments led to a boycott of Ahold's flagship Albert Heijn chain in the Netherlands, which sent sales plummeting. In a related development, board chairman Henny de Ruiter announced his resignation, becoming the 13th senior executive to leave the company since word of the scandal broke last February.

Kerr-McGee Corp. will lay off up to 250 employees by year's end, it announced Tuesday as part of a plan to reduce costs by $45 million annually. Kerr-McGee is based in Oklahoma City and specializes in oil and gas exploration and production.

WCI Steel Inc. filed for protection from creditors Tuesday under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. The Warren, Ohio, company said it plans to continue production as it restructures. Thirty-five American steel producers or related companies have declared bankruptcy since 1998.

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