Business & Finance

Morgan Stanley, the No. 2 securities firm in the US, agreed Monday to pay $54 million to settle a sex-bias lawsuit. A former bond saleswoman for the company initiated the action upon being fired four years ago after claiming she was passed over for a promotion. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hammered out the deal, called a "watershed" for women on Wall Street by the judge in the case. It earmarks $40 million for claims filed by women at the company's institutional equities division, where they accused male colleagues of discrimination, making lewd comments, and groping. By settling the second-largest sex-bias suit brought by the EEOC - the largest, for $81.5 million, involved Publix Super Markets Inc. in 1997 - Morgan Stanley avoids a federal trial.

Leucadia National Corp., a leading buyout firm, filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, seeking the right to purchase at least 50 percent of telecommunications giant MCI, reports said. Analysts said they believe the move may spur rival carriers to make bids for MCI now that the former WorldCom has emerged from bankruptcy.

DaimlerChrysler warned, "We would have to part with 6,000 employees" unless unions representing them agree to a $621 million-a-year cost-cutting program. The lost jobs all would be in southern Germany, the automaker said, and production of its new C-class Mercedes - due in dealer showrooms in 2007 - could be shifted to plants in South Africa if the unions don't consent to the strategy. The company has been experiencing a slump in sales and operating profits. Siemens AG, the electrical engineering conglomerate, won concessions from unionized employees in Germany last month via an identical strategy. But DaimlerChrysler's unions mounted a 12,000-man protest at one assembly plant last weekend and plans further disruptions Thursday at all the company's facilities in Germany.

Over the protests of the civil servants' union, 84,000 government jobs will be cut to help pay for increased spending in other areas, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer announced late Monday. Gordon Brown said the savings were needed for defense, counterterrorism, international aid, and other purposes. The layoffs are more than double the number the government said would be necessary back in April. Since Prime Minister Tony Blair rose to power seven years ago, the government has hired 517,000 civil servants.

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