Business & Finance

Telecommunications giant WorldCom Inc. is expected to lay off as many as 7,500 more employees – 10 percent of its work force – The Wall Street Journal reported. The US's No. 2 long-distance provider and a leading Internet carrier cut thousands of jobs last year amid an industrywide downturn. Its accounting practices also are under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

AOL Time Warner is expected to issue $4 billion in 3-, 5-, 10-, and 30-year bonds, reports said. The media and online services powerhouse is the latest in a series of companies to take such a step to pay off short-term debts as the commercial paper market dries up in the wake of the Enron collapse.

Arthur Andersen LLP's Singapore affiliate and accounting rival Ernst & Young announced merger plans. That follows similar moves by Andersen arms in Australia and New Zealand. The decision came a day after talks broke down in London on a proposed merger of all Andersen's non-US businesses with another "Big Five" auditor, Netherlands-based KPMG.

Negotiations have reached an advanced stage for a $5 billion buyout of Miller Brewing Co. by South African Breweries PLC (SAB), The Wall Street Journal reported. But a deal is considered at least a few weeks away and still could fall through, sources familiar with the talks said. An SAB spokesman refused to comment on the report. An SAB-Miller linkup would result in the industry's second-largest brewing company, behind Anheuser Busch.

Blaming the nation's economic crisis and the devalued peso, Telecom Argentina announced it will not make payments on the principal of its $3.3 billion debt. The default is the largest in Argentine corporate history. The company is jointly owned by Telecom Italia and France Telecom.

Another 300 jobs, all involving professional staffers, are being cut by Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), the company announced. The Zurich, Switzerland-based investment bank laid off 2,500 employees last fall in a drive to lower operating costs by $1 billion.

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