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Boeing Co., which was blocked from bidding on lucrative Air Force rocket-launch contracts because of business improprieties, won the lifting of its 20-month suspension Friday. An Air Force spokesman said the company had taken "serious corrective actions" to address issues of procurement integrity stemming from accusations that Boeing had stolen proprietary documents from rival Lockheed Martin. Boeing, which was stripped of $1 billion in launch contracts, will pay the Air Force $1.9 million for the cost of investigating the allegations. As part of the deal, the aerospace giant also will pay for a special compliance officer to monitor its ethics over the next three years and report his findings to the Air Force. Boeing now may resume bidding on billion-dollar, rocket-launch contracts.

Aon Corp., the world's second-largest insurance broker, agreed to pay $190 million to settle charges of alleged fraud brought by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) of New York and prosecutors and regulators in Connecticut and Illinois. Spitzer's office has spearheaded the crackdown on the industry and won agreement last week from Marsh & McLennan Cos., the nation's largest insurer, to pay $850 million to settle an investigation of illegal bid- rigging practices. Like Marsh & McLennan, Aon was accused of steering clients to favored insurance underwriters. Under the settlement, Aon also will compensate policyholders and adopt accountability reforms. The company is based in Chicago.

As many as 5,500 employees will lose their jobs at a Maxtor Corp. assembly plant in Singapore, the hard-disk- drive company said in a regulatory filing Friday. The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said Maxtor intends to close one of its two plants there by early next year as it moves the production of desktop components to China. Maxtor is based in Milpitas, Calif.

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IBM announced plans to cease operations at its business services unit in Hanover and Schweinfurt, Germany, resulting in the layoffs of 580 employees.

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