Business & Finance

The path to Hewlett-Packard's $18 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp. appeared clear after the deal's main critic, Walter Hewlett, said he was ending his opposition. His announcement came after a Delaware chancery court rejected his lawsuit to nullify results of H-P's March 19 shareholder vote approving the deal. Hewlett, son of one of H-P's founders, said although he still opposed the merger, the largest in computer-industry history, he'd work to ensure its success in the interest of shareholders.

Troubled WorldCom Inc. named a new president and chief executive. John Sidgmore replaces Bernard Ebbers, who resigned Monday at the request of the board of directors. Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom is struggling under $28 billion in debt, an 80-percent stock decline this year, and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Following Tuesday's announcement, WorldCom shares gained 13 cents, or 5 percent, to end at $2.48 on the Nasdaq stock market.

ABC-TV president Steven Bornstein stepped down Tuesday. His departure after less than a year in the post comes just two weeks before the network – lagging in third place overall in current network ratings and fourth among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers whom advertisers prefer – is due to unveil its fall lineup.

Ignoring pleas for moderation, members of the powerful IG Metall, Germany's largest labor union, voted overwhelmingly to strike for higher pay beginning Monday. The 2.8 million-member union is expected to target such industrial giants as Siemens and automakers DaimlerChrysler and Porsche. In recent contract negotiations, IG Metall lowered its wage-increase demands from 6.5 percent to 4 percent, but the talks collapsed when employers offered 3.3 percent over 13 months, plus a one-time cash bonus. Unless it is settled quickly, the strike is projected to have a major impact on Germany's Sept. 22 election.

Aeon Co. Ltd., the international retailing giant, will lay off 1,000 workers by March, a spokesman said. The Chiba, Japan-based company owns or franchises more than 3,000 stores, among them The Body Shop and Laura Ashley chains. It also has a joint venture with the Sports Authority chain and owns 60 percent of The Talbots, a high-quality women's apparel retailer.

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