Business & Finance

Jury selection was to begin in Arthur Andersen LLP's trial in Houston on a charge of obstruction of justice for destroying documents related to bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp. Andersen is expected to argue that the destruction was the work of rogue employees, not the highly organized effort that prosecutors contend. The accounting firm has lost the bulk of its top clients and foreign partners in the wake of the indictment, and faces civil suits by shareholders.

Tens of thousands of union members staged the first full day of strikes in Germany in seven years, concentrating on automakers DaimlerChrysler, Audi, and Porsche. Seventeen other companies also were hit in what is planned as a series of rolling, one-day walkouts in a demand for a wage increase of 6.5 percent. Economists warn that the strikes by IG Metall, the largest of Germany's labor organizations, could undercut what has been a tentative economic recovery that Chancelor Gerhard Schröder is banking on to help him and his Social Democratic Party retain power in a national election scheduled for Sept. 22.

News Corp., the powerful media group of Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch, refused to comment on a published report that it will take a $5.4 billion hit next week as a result of its investment in onscreen TV listing service Gemstar. The writedown, necessary under recently revised US accounting rules, would be the largest in the history of Australian business. News Corp. owns 42 percent of Pasadenia, Calif.-based Gemstar, which, in turn, owns the popular publication TV Guide. In December, News Corp. wrote off $909 million on three TV sports-coverage contracts and another $785 million on its investment in the now-bankrupt German media group Kirch.

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