Business & Finance

Ford Motor Co., which historically has cut its white-collar ranks through voluntary buyouts and early retirements, anticipates releasing 400 employees involuntarily, The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday, citing a new internal memo. The automaker announced earlier that it would shrink its salaried staff by 2,750 jobs this year, but the strategy for doing so wasn't clear at the time. The memo, by chief operating officer James Padilla, said the decisions on which employees are let go will be based on "what they do and how well they do it," the Free Press reported. Ford's sales and its share of the US vehicle market are both down this year.

The proposed $5.8 billion takeover of the largest insurance company in the Nordic region has been rejected, a respected Swedish business journal reported. Dagens Nyheter said Skandia AB's board members concluded Sunday night that the offer from Old Mutual PLC was too low. But the latter company said it believes a majority of Skandia's shareholders would be receptive to the proposal. Skandia is based in Stockholm. Old Mutual's headquarters are in London, but it earns three-quarters of its revenue from banking, insurance, and asset-management services in South Africa.

Petronas International Co., the state-owned oil and gas giant of Malaysia, and the government of Sudan agreed to build a $1 billion refinery capable of processing high-acid crude. The facility will be operated jointly at Port Sudan, 400 miles northeast of the capital, Khartoum, and is expected to produce products that meet European marketing specifications by early 2009, reports said.

Abercrombie & Fitch, whose line of clothing is especially popular with teenagers, announced that president and chief operating officer Robert Singer is leaving the company, effective immediately, after only 15 months on the job. A spokesman said Singer's departure stems from differences over expansion plans in Canada, Britain, continental Europe, and Japan. Abercrombie & Fitch has 790 US stores, most of them in malls.

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