Business & Finance

Boeing won an order for as many as 40 new 737 passenger jets from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise. Terms were not announced, but at current list prices, the order would be worth more than $2.6 billion. The buyer is a division of Singapore Airlines.

Responding to a gloomy business forecast by General Motors, GE Capital Corp. said Monday it will pull the plug on a $2 billion program that issues early payments to the automaker's suppliers. The program pays makers of parts - who are whipsawed by their own rising costs as well as by slowing car production - within a few business days instead of the 45 that GM usually takes to make payments. GE Capital will take advantage of an escape clause to back out of its contract at the end of June, six months sooner than expected. The automaker said its GMAC Commercial Finance division would take over the payments.

On its fourth try, leveraged buyout specialist Texas Pacific Group won enough shareholder support to acquire British Vita PLC for $1.3 billion. The latter, based in Manchester, England, makes foam for the furniture industry, plus thermoplastics and polyester fibers. Texas Pacific also controls the Burger King fast-food chain and clothing retailer J. Crew.

Cellphone service provider O2 said it will hire 2,000 new sales and call-center personnel over the next two years to try to maintain growth and "improve customer retention" in "a highly penetrated" market. The company, a unit of British Telecom, has roughly 23 million subscribers in Britain, Ireland, and Germany.

In a new round of layoffs:

• Citing loss of life and irreparable damage to two of its mines from a March 9 earthquake, DRDGold Ltd. of South Africa said it will close them, resulting in the elimination of 6,000 jobs. The company previously let 7,000 other workers go as the exchange rate for the rand more than doubled against the US dollar.

• The union representing Bank of Ireland employees vowed to fight the company's newly announced plan to cut 2,100 jobs, calling it "corporate greed at its most vulgar." A bank spokesman said the cuts will be made over four years and are necessary "or we will run the very serious risk of being competitively disadvantaged."

• Unionized employees of the embattled BBC threatened to strike after the company said Monday it will cut another 2,050 jobs over the next three years. The layoffs will be in addition to 1,730 announced earlier this month.

• Alcoa, the world's largest producer of aluminum, said it will lay off 2,000 employees over the next 12 months.

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