Business & Finance

IBM announced a 10-year reverse-outsourcing deal with the largest private telecommunications company in India that will bring an unspecified number of jobs to the US. The contract with Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd. of New Delhi is valued at $750 million and concludes 15 months of negotiations. Bharti has 7 million customers and projects that base will grow to 25 million by the end of 2006. Outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries is a key issue in the current US presidential campaign.

Albertsons Inc., one of the nation's largest food and drug retailers, said it will buy 202 Shaw's and Star supermarkets in New England for $2.1 billion from their struggling British parent, J. Sainsbury PLC. The affected stores will continue to operate under their own banners.

Bankrupt MCI said it will cut 4,000 jobs as part of a plan aimed at reducing costs by at least 15 percent this year. MCI, formerly known as WorldCom, is expected to emerge from bankruptcy next month. Three call centers - in Niles, Ohio; Denver; and Phoenix - will be shut down, the company announced Friday, and jobs also will be eliminated in Georgia and Montana.

Royal Dutch/Shell was threatened with the forced closure of its operations in Nigeria if it follows through with plans to lay off 1,500 employees there. The oil giant announced the strategy early last week to increase output while lowering the per-barrel cost of production. The company's Nigerian headquarters also would be relocated from Lagos, the commercial capital, to Port Harcourt in the heart of the oil region. But on Friday the governor of oil-rich Delta state said through a spokesman, "[Shell] might as well say bye-bye" if the plan is carried out.

Deeply troubled dairy-products giant Parmalat posted new details of its turnaround strategy on the Internet Friday, indicating it will seek to scale back operations from 29 foreign countries to as few as 10. Among them: Canada, Australia, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Romania. Earlier this month, the Parma, Italy, company said it will cut its product line from 120 brands to 30. Its dairy and bakery operations in the US already are on the auction block. A recent audit put Parmalat's debt at $18 billion.

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