Business & Finance

Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone quietly are seeking to mend fences after their widely publicized split last May, a major Japanese business journal reported. The daily Nihon Keizai said a high-level meeting between representatives of the companies would be held later this month at an unspecified site. The report, however, cited no sources, and both companies said through spokesmen only that they'd be open to such talks. They parted ways because of a bitter dispute over tire quality after almost a century of doing business together.

The US's three major TV networks are suing the maker of the first Internet-ready personal digital video recorder, claiming the ReplayTV 4000 could violate copyrights by allowing users to make and distribute illegal copies of programs online. NBC, ABC, and CBS, which filed the suit in a California federal court against Santa Clara-based SONICblue Inc., also complained that the personal video recorder automatically can strip out commercials. SONICblue planned to start selling ReplayTV 4000 in mid-November, but the networks are seeking to prevent it from coming to market. SONICblue said its product contains technology to prevent illegal distribution, including a limit on the number of times a user could send a particular program to another ReplayTV 4000 owner.

In layoff news:

• Delta Air Lines said enough employees have chosen early retirement or a voluntary severance program that only 2,000 jobs remain to be cut instead of the 13,000 announced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

• TDK Corp., a major producer of compact discs, audio cassettes, and components for electronics, will lay off 8,860 employees by next March and another 2,480 by March 2003, it said. The company is based in Tokyo.

• Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest, will eliminate 4,500 more jobs on top of the 2,600 announced earlier, the company announced.

• United Overseas Bank needs to cut 2,000 jobs as a result of its merger with a smaller rival in September, reports said. Both are based in Singapore.

• Thomas Cook AG, one of the world's largest travel agencies, said it will cut 1,500 jobs in its British operations and ask remaining employees to agree to a pay cut.

• ICI, the British chemicals group, announced 1,300 layoffs.

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