Business & Finance

Within 48 hours of one of history's most exciting World Series, Major League Baseball owners voted "overwhelmingly" to fold two franchises before the start of next season. The contraction will be the first at the big-league level since 1899 and was blamed on "a long record of failing to generate enough revenues" to continue operating viably. The two teams were not immediately identified, although a source close to the deliberations said they would be the Minnesota Twins, who play in Minneapolis, and the Montreal Expos. The owners of those franchises were understood to be the lone dissenters. Neither franchise has been successful in efforts to win local approval for a new baseball-only stadium.

As expected, Sabena filed for bankruptcy, leaving 12,000 employees of the Belgian national airline jobless and thousands of ticket holders stranded. But Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt quickly announced the creation of a new carrier with no government connections. He said the as-yet-unnamed airline would be capitalized at $180 million, most of it from private banks and other enterprises. The new airline was to begin operating "as quickly as possible," using Sabena's still-functioning regional unit, Delta Air Transport, as a launchpad.

The family of Hewlett-Packard cofounder William Hewlett announced it plans to vote against the company's proposed $21 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer, casting doubt on what would be one of the high-tech industry's biggest deals. HP's biggest shareholder, the Packard Family Foundation, which owns more than 10 percent of the company's stock, has yet to announce whether it supports the deal.

Security Capital Group Inc. offered to buy the remaining 57 percent of self-storage facilities operator Storage USA it doesn't already own for $1.8 billion, including the assumption of $761 million in debt. Security Capital, a real estate holding company, is based in Greenwich, Conn.; Storage USA in Memphis, Tenn.

Waterford Wedgewood PLC, the world-famous maker of crystal and china, said it will cut 1,400 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce. The largest percentage of the layoffs will come in Britain, with lesser numbers in Ireland, the company's base, the US, Japan, Germany, and Australia.

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