Business & Finance

With a week remaining until shareholders are to vote on the proposed Royal Caribbean-P&O Princess cruise line merger, rival Carnival Corp. upped its hostile bid for Princess yet again. However, Carnival said its $5.4 billion offer - the fourth and final one permitted under British takeover policy - was conditional on receiving indications by today that the Feb. 14 shareholder meeting could be adjourned without a vote. Miami-based Carnival is the world's largest cruise-ship operator. Royal Caribbean and P&O Princess are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

General Motors revised its proposal to take over South Korea's bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. The new terms were not immediately announced. But the governor of the bank that is Daewoo's main creditor said, after a close examination, GM raised concerns that the troubled automaker's estimated $17 billion debt is larger than previously declared. Some Korean analysts accuse GM of foot-dragging on the preliminary $400 million deal it signed in September, in hopes of winning concessions from labor unions and better financing terms.

Ending months of uncertainty, the controversial president of the European Central Bank announced he'll retire in July 2003 - three years early. Wim Duisenberg of the Netherlands supervised the establishment of the bank, the world's newest, and the introduction of the European Union's new single currency. But he hasn't always enjoyed a favorable public image and was a compromise choice for the post from the beginning. In 1998, France pushed strongly for its own candidate, Jean-Claude Trichet. Trichet is widely regarded as having the inside track to succeed Duisenberg. But he, too, is controversial, having been investigated for his role in the near-collapse of France's state-owned Credit Lyonnais Bank a decade ago.

Another 1,600 layoffs were announced by Visteon Corp. as part of its ongoing restructuring program. The Dearborn, Mich.-based auto parts supplier, spun off by Ford two years ago, already has cut 2,000 jobs since last April. Visteon said it planned to sell its Restraint Electronics business, shutting down a Markham, Ontario, plant and moving its remaining operations to Mexico.

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