In a new bankruptcy filing, United Airlines reiterated its intent to eliminate the pension plans of unionized employees in the absence of viable alternatives for saving money. In the filing Monday, the carrier said the measures are necessary to satisfy banks that have expressed interest in providing it with as much as $2.5 billion in financing for emerging from bankruptcy by fall. "Now is not a time for half-measures," United chief Glenn Tilton said, arguing that rising fuel costs have left the company with no room for compromise. But unionized mechanics and machinists are threatening to strike if the carrier has its preferred wage and benefit cuts imposed in bankruptcy court May 11 without first renegotiating their contracts.
In a deal valued at $1.3 billion, the financial services giant Fortis Bank said it will buy Turkey's privately owned Disbank. The latter has more than 1 million depositors and borrowers, and acquiring it will make Fortis the largest foreign retail bank in Turkey. Fortis is a Dutch- Belgian company.
Evoking memories of Yukos's recent collapse, the government of Russia presented another oil company with a huge bill for back taxes. Authorities said TNK-BP, which is jointly owned by the British oil giant, owes $1 billion for fiscal 2001. Members of TNK-BP's board called the demand "a very bad surprise" and vowed to fight it in court if necessary. Last month, in the wake of the Yukos demise, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to ease investor concerns by pledging to rein in overzealous tax officials.
In layoff news:
• BMC Software Inc., a leading provider of e-business management programs, will cut as many as 875 jobs from its global staff, MarketWatch reported. The Houston company announced disappointing preliminary results for the first quarter. Two years ago, BMC eliminated 900 jobs.
• Insurance giant MetLife, which acquired Travelers Life & Annuity in January, said it will cut 600 jobs within a year from the latter's 2,000-person staff, mostly in Hartford, Conn. State officials had lobbied MetLife to minimize the impact of layoffs during the integration of the companies.
• Longaberger Co., the nation's largest producer of handmade baskets, said it will lay off 360 people because of disappointing sales. The company is based in Newark, Ohio, and markets baskets, pottery, and other products through 70,000 home-based representatives.