Business & Finance

Microsoft needs to save about $1 billion in the new fiscal year, which began July 1, chief executive Steve Ballmer told employees in an annual e-mail Tuesday. He said the savings were necessary to avoid "big company ills" and because expenses have grown faster than revenues over the last three years, while the price of Microsoft shares has stagnated. Besides efficiency improvements, Ballmer cited belt-tightening in such areas as reduced prescription-drug benefits and employee stock discounts.

One day after being given a deadline to made a third bid for Britain's No. 1 clothing and food retailer, Marks & Spencer, Monaco tycoon Philip Green issued a $16.8 billion proposal that his investment company called "final." But it said the offer is contingent on a favorable recommendation by the M&S board and on Green being permitted to conduct due diligence on the chain's books.

A potential way out of Yukos's mounting problems was offered by imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who said he'd surrender all his stock in the huge Russian oil company to prevent it from going bankrupt. The shares either could be handed over to state tax authorities or sold to satisfy Yukos's liabilities. The company had until the close of business Wednesday to pay $3.4 billion in back taxes for 2000, but it also has been billed $3.3 billion for 2001 and reportedly owes still more for 2002 and 2003. Khodorkovsky, who controls a 44 percent stake in Yukos, himself is charged with tax evasion and fraud.

With a national election looming, the government of Norway sold 100 million shares worth $1.5 billion in Statoil, its oil and natural gas company. The move reduces the government's stake from 81.7 percent to 77.1 percent.

Apollo Management will buy Borden Chemical Inc. from private equity rival Kohlberg Kravis Roberts for $1.2 billion, including $545 million in assumed debt, CBS MarketWatch reported Tuesday. In agreeing to the deal, Borden, which makes resins, adhesives, and specialty chemicals, will drop plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. Borden is based in Columbus, Ohio.

Siemens, the electronics and engineering giant, will buy back $1.2 billion worth of its own bonds "to drive down our debt," a spokesman told the financial news service Bloomberg.com.

Banking giant Crédit Lyonnais said it will cut 2,432 jobs between now and 2007 - all of them through attrition. The company was taken over last year by French rival Crédit Agricole and now is the latter's retail banking subsidiary.

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