Business & Finance

General Motors expects to offer early-retirement buyouts to white-collar employees aged 50 and older, a company spokesman confirmed, calling the move "a continuation of the cuts we've been making" for the past two years. The offers, effective April 1, are aimed at trimming the auto-maker's workforce by about 5,000. In another cost-cutting effort, GM will delay until late in the year the merit increases usually awarded in June, the spokesman said.

Exxon Mobil appears to have lost its bid to join a consortium of energy giants in an $18 billion natural gas project in underdeveloped western China, reports said. The US company was excluded from the preliminary list of foreign participants in the project, which includes exploration, development, and a 3,600-mile pipeline. As recently as last month it was expected that Exxon Mobil would emerge as a partner. Instead, the winner was a consortium of Royal Dutch/Shell and Russia's Gazprom, which will take a 45 percent stake to 55 percent for PetroChina. China is the world's third-largest energy market.

Dave Thomas, who died at home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was the founder and senior chairman of Wendy's International Inc. But although the Dublin, Ohio-based company is No. 3 among fast-food chains, Thomas was perhaps the most-recognized executive in American business because of his appearance - always in a short-sleeved white shirt and red tie - in hundreds of homespun, self-effacing TV commercials. He also was a philanthropist, setting up a foundation to raise public awareness of and develop incentives for adoption.

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