MCI's board of directors was under intense pressure to reach a final decision on which of two takeover offers to accept. The company had until midnight Tuesday to commit fully to the $6.7 billion bid from Verizon it agreed to earlier. But in a letter to the board Monday, Qwest Communications also imposed a deadline - April 5 - for a decision on its $8.5 billion offer. Verizon's bid is widely perceived as being on more solid financial footing, but investors who hold a quarter of MCI's stock said they wanted more discussions with Qwest, which has twice increased its original offer although it is a much smaller company than Verizon.
Goldman Sachs and a partner agreed to pay $3.8 billion for control of the world's largest cleaning contractor, ISS of Copenhagen, Denmark. The other buyer was identified as EQT Partners, a Swedish equity firm. ISS or its subsidiaries offer general office cleaning in 42 countries, specialized maintenance for food-processing and high-tech plants, and disaster cleanup and landscaping services.
The man who built American International Group into an insurance industry giant, Maurice (Hank) Greenberg, announced he'll sever formal ties to the company by retiring Thursday as nonexecutive chairman. He was ousted as chief executive two weeks ago amid intensifying investigations into AIG's financial deals and accounting practices and was expected to be removed from the chairmanship as well. Greenberg is under subpoena to give a deposition to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) April 12 in connection with one of those probes. His resignation letter reportedly offers assistance to AIG's new leadership in such areas as international operations, but the company declined to comment on that or any other related details.
Philips Electronics announced plans to sell its entire stake in Navteq Corp., a leading supplier of digital mapping technology for vehicles and Internet users. Philips owns 37.1 percent of the Chicago company and said it expects to realize at least $1.3 billion from the sale.
Steelcase Inc. will close its last remaining assembly plants in Grand Rapids, Mich., over the next two years, cutting 600 jobs in the process, reports said. The company, a maker of office furniture, is the city's No. 1 taxpayer, although it has laid off 6,000 other employees in recent years. Operations will be transferred to other Michigan locations and to Mexico, Steelcase said.