Business & Finance

After last-ditch rescue talks failed, KirchMedia, the core unit of deeply indebted German conglomerate Kirch, filed for insolvency Monday at a court in Munich, Germany. The court is expected to name an administrator to oversee operations and recommend whether to restructure, break up, or sell off KirchMedia assets. Ahead of the filing, Kirch Group transferred its lucrative broadcasting rights to the 2002 and 2004 World Cup soccer matches to Kirch Sport AG, a subsidiary based in Zug, Switzerland.

Despite an industry-wide slump, online brokerage firm Ameritrade Holding Corp. has agreed to buy Datek Online Holdings Corp. for nearly $1.3 billion in stock. The transaction, which ends an intense three-month auction for Datek, will give Ameritrade about 2.7 million online trading accounts, the companies said, moving it just below industry leaders E+Trade Group and TD Waterhouse. Combined, the firms will have some $43 billion in customer assets and average 164,000 trades per day.

A Delaware judge on Sunday heard a motion from Hewlett-Packard Co. to dismiss a lawsuit that aims to prevent its planned merger with Compaq Computer Corp. Walter Hewlett, a son of HP's cofounder, claims in the suit that HP improperly enticed a big investor to back the merger and that the company misled investors about the progress of plans to integrate the two computer giants. After hearing more than two hours of arguments, Chancery Court Judge William Chandler said he needed time to consider the matter, but that he'd rule quickly.

National Australia Bank Ltd., that country's largest and most profitable financial services institution, said it would cut 2,050 jobs – 1,500 of them in the next 18 months – as part of a worldwide restructuring. Last week, the Melbourne, Australia-based firm announced it would close 56 branches in rural areas. The layoffs will cost as much as $119.2 million this year, NAB said, but are aimed at saving $196 million by September 2004.

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