Business & Finance

For the third time, the board of PeopleSoft Inc. voted unanimously to recommend that its shareholders reject a hostile takeover bid by rival Oracle Corp. PeopleSoft "has a better plan" for the company, the board said in a statement. Oracle's latest offer, described as final, is reported to be worth $9.4 billion, up from the original $5.1 billion last June, and carries a March 12 expiration date.

Electronic Data Systems has shelved plans for an initial public offering later this year for its software subsidiary, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper said EDS has received "solid interest" from an unidentified source in a private sale that could be worth as much as $1.2 billion, whereas an IPO requires heavy up-front expenditures by the seller. Divesting itself of the UGS-PLM Solutions unit is seen as a key element of the company's restructuring plan. Last week, EDS reported a large fourth-quarter loss and was placed on Standard & Poor's credit-watch list, a step on the path to being reduced to junk-bond status. EDS is the world's second-largest information- technology services company. It is based in the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas.

A $2.36 billion loss for the 2003 business year was reported by the operators of the tunnel under the English Channel. Eurotunnel Group, which is jointly owned by British and French interests, also said it had appealed to the London and Paris governments for permission to cut access charges for rail-freight lines and for the Eurostar train, which shuttles passengers, trucks, and buses between Folkstone, England, and Coquelles, France.

Boyd Gaming Corp., an operator of casinos in Las Vegas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Indiana, and Illinois, said it will acquire rival Coast Casinos Inc. The deal is worth $1.3 billion in cash, stock, and assumption of debt, CBS MarketWatch reported. Both companies are based in Las Vegas.

As many as 1,500 employees will be laid off later this year by a subsidiary of Russia's second-largest oil producer, the Moscow newspaper Vedemosti reported. It said half of those affected hold managerial positions with OAO Lukoil Holdings.

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