Business & Finance

Beleaguered Yukos, the former Russian oil industry giant, said it is suing the parties that took away its main production unit while it was seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from a federal court in the US. The suit will seek more than $20 billion in damages, a spokesman said Saturday. The production unit, Yugansneftgaz, was seized and sold at auction by Russian authorities in December to help settle a disputed demand for back taxes. Yukos seeks to have the tax matter referred to an international arbiter.

Apple Computer Inc., announced a two-for-one stock split. Brisk sales of iPod digital music players, introduced last year, and the recent launch of lower-priced versions of its Mac computer have made Apple's shares the best performers in the Nasdaq 100 index and the wider S&P 500 over the past 12 months.

Blockbuster Inc., the largest US video retailer, opened a hostile takeover bid for its largest rival, Hollywood Entertainment Corp. of Wilsonville, Ore. Reports said Blockbuster approached creditors Friday about buying two-thirds of Hollywood's debt for $225 million - setting in motion an overall plan to acquire the latter company for $985 million. Hollywood already has agreed to be sold to the industry's third-largest chain, Movie Gallery Inc. of Dothan, Ala.

Lazard Ltd., the global investment bank that is seeking to go public, confirmed that it's being investigated for allegedly giving gifts and favors to mutual-fund advisers for steering business its way. The 154-year-old privately owned Paris company said it has received letters of inquiry into the matter from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Association of Securities Dealers. But it believes the probes are being conducted industrywide. Lazard filed with the SEC Dec. 17 to hold an $850 million initial public offering.

In layoff news:

• Citigroup said Friday it will cut the workforce of its corporate and investment bank. There was no official word on the number of people affected, but a source familiar with the decision said more than 1,000 jobs are expected to go.

• Citing falling revenues because of a price war with competitors, the largest cellphone service provider in Scandinavia, Telia Sonera Corp., announced it will lay off 650 employees - all in Finland.

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