Business & Finance

Sprint and Nextel Communications scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to consider a megamerger of their wireless operations that could be worth as much as $36 billion, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported. The newspapers said a deal may be announced Wednesday, although the Times noted that Verizon - whose wireless unit is a joint venture with industry giant Vodafone of Britain - may yet try to top Sprint's offer. Barring the latter development, however, Sprint could wind up with a 51 percent stake in the new company, but with an even split on its board of directors, according to the Journal. Fusing Sprint's subscriber base with Nextel's clientele of on-the-go users would create a network of 39 million customers and place the combined company behind only Cingular (with 47 million subscribers) and Verizon (with 40 million).

Delphi Corp., the world's largest supplier of automotive parts, said Friday it will cut 8,500 jobs, beginning next year. Delphi, based in Troy, Mich., anticipates trimming 3,000 hourly-wage employees in the US, with the remaining cuts occurring at its overseas plants. The decision to downsize, the company said, is driven by rising steel prices and lower production runs scheduled early next year by its two major customers, General Motors and Ford. Delphi is a former unit of GM. Meanwhile, the company told the Detroit Free Press it's finishing an internal accounting review that found an improperly recorded $20 million payment from Electronic Data Systems, another ex-GM unit, in 2001.

Bankrupt United Airlines will eliminate 14 percent of its domestic flights after the year-end holidays in another move aimed at saving money, it announced Friday. But some of those will be offset by added overseas flights, particularly on more profitable routes, its chief operating officer was quoted as saying. None of the routes was identified. The carrier and the union representing its mechanics are scheduled to resume negotiations Tuesday in San Francisco on modifications to the latter's contract.

Sun Capital Partners and another buyout specialist agreed Friday to pay $1.98 billion for the life insurance business of London financial services group HHC PLC. Sun Capital is based in Boca Raton, Fla. Its partner, TDR Capital, also is based in London.

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