Business & Finance

AOL Time Warner posted a $54.2 billion net loss in the first quarter, the biggest in US corporate history. The previously disclosed loss, required under new accounting rules, reflects a more than 50 percent decline in share prices since the merger that created the online media colossus two years ago. Otherwise, the company reported higher earnings in its cable, publishing, music, and film businesses. But it acknowledged weakness in the once-dynamic AOL unit due to a slump in online advertising.

DaimlerChrysler reversed six straight quarters of steep losses and reported an operating profit of $916 million for January, February, and March. The automaker also upgraded its forecast for Chrysler, saying the struggling US unit "could" show a profit for the year instead of merely reaching the break-even point, as previously predicted.

Nissan Motor Co. announced it will hire 4,000 more workers by next March, the bulk of them at the assembly plant it is building near Canton, Miss. The workforce additions will be the company's first since it began a major turnaround program in late 1999. Prior to that, it had lost money in seven of the previous eight fiscal years.

By a slim margin, TRW shareholders voted to ask the Cleveland-based defense/auto parts supplier's management to open the books to Northrop Grumman Corp. Analysts said the vote signaled interest in a $6.7 billion hostile takeover bid by the US's third-largest defense contractor. TRW's board has rejected the offer as too low.

Despite a more profitable than expected second quarter, German engineering and electronics giant Siemens AG said it will cut 6,500 more jobs. The layoffs, on top of 10,000 announced earlier, will affect its money-losing ICN fixed-line telephone equipment division. The company reported a $1.4 billion second-quarter profit, mostly from the sale of shares in its former computer-chip subsidiary.

Grundig, the financially troubled manufacturer of consumer electronics, warned it will use up its lines of credit by the end of June. A new investor must be found, a senior executive said, because "We can't raise [fresh cash] via loans." The Nuremberg, Germany-based company came close to financial collapse two years ago.

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