Business & Finance

Refusing to take "no" for an answer, Qwest Communications' board was meeting Wednesday, apparently to consider yet another bid for MCI, despite the latter's decision to recommit itself to a buyout by rival Verizon. Reports said Qwest also hired a noted proxy adviser, Altman Group of New York, for a possible end run around MCI's board and a pitch directly to shareholders. Such an approach would be hostile, and some industry analysts said they hoped Qwest ultimately would decide against it. MCI announced late Tuesday, for the second time, that it would accept Verizon's offer, even though - at $7.64 billion - it is less generous than Qwest's.

Hewlett-Packard Co. raised eyebrows by announcing a relative obscure replacement for ousted chief executive Carly Fiorina. The troubled computer giant said Mark Hurd, who rose through the ranks of automatic teller machine manufacturer NCR Corp. of Dayton, Ohio, to become its boss two years ago, will be paid a $2 million signing bonus and an annual base salary of $1.4 million. Analysts described his management style as "a complete 180-degree turnabout" from Fiorina, who was fired in February despite a flamboyant image and aggressive approach to her work. Hurd issued a statement saying, "It's a great honor" to join Hewlett-Packard and be given "the opportunity to build on its success."

In a wave of new developments in the banking industry:

• The closely regulated financial-services sector in Italy was under assault as ABN Amro of the Netherlands and Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) launched takeover bids there aimed at expanding their growth prospects. ABN Amro announced a $8.1 billion offer to buy the remaining stake in Banca Antoniana Veneta it doesn't already own, saying that it has confidence in the latter's current management but is concerned about who might assume control next. Meanwhile, BBVA offered a $8.29 billion stock-swap Tuesday for Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, Italy's sixth-largest. Both takeovers must be approved by Italy's central bank, which has thwarted such attempts since the system was privatized a decade ago.

• National Australia Bank said it will cut 1,700 jobs from its operations in Britain over the next 18 months, citing a desire to become "more nimble and customer-focused."

Siemens, the electronics and engineering giant, announced its second major acquisition in two weeks: Flender Holding, a maker of gear systems for ships and turbines. The deal is valued at $1.5 billion. Flender is based in Bocholt, Germany. On March 18, Siemens paid $967 million for CTI Molecular Imaging Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., a supplier of diagnostic technology to the medical field.

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