Business & Finance

Auditor Arthur Andersen LLP is cutting 7,000 jobs – a move that will strike hardest at audit and administrative staff in its Chicago headquarters and biggest US offices. The firm, tainted by the shredding of thousands of Enron-related documents and a federal obstruction of justice indictment, has lost several major clients in recent months. The cuts will slash the company's US workforce of 26,000 by more than a quarter.

Levi Strauss & Co. will close six US plants and lay off 3,600 workers as it moves virtually all of its remaining US production to cheaper factories overseas. Making the announcement Monday, the San Francisco-based company's chief executive, Philip Marineau, said, "There is no question that we must move away from owned-and-operated plants in the US to remain competitive." Labor leaders say Levi's decision proves the US government isn't doing enough to prevent domestic manufacturers from being undercut by rivals in countries with lower labor costs.

New York's attorney general won a court order that compels Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. to disclose ties to investment bankers and explain its stock ratings to customers. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said a 10-month investigation found that the New York-based investment firm, one of the country's oldest and largest, issued misleading stock recommendations. In a statement, Merrill Lynch said the allegations were "baseless" and that a fair review of facts would show the "independence and integrity" of its stock research.

A day after KirchMedia filed for insolvency, KirchPayTV, a smaller, heavily indebted unit of German media conglomerate Kirch Group, was said to be imminent. KirchPayTV, which controls the Premiere World channel, is seen as largely responsible for the failing conglomerate's more than $5.7 billion in debts.

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