Business & Finance

A bankruptcy filing appeared imminent by KPNQwest, a joint venture of Qwest Communications and Dutch telecommunications giant KPN, following the resignation of its supervisory board. The deepening crisis came as the credit rating of Denver-based Qwest, the US's fourth-largest long-distance operator, was reduced to junk status by Standard & Poor's over concerns about its ability to repay $26.6 billion in debt.

Bayer, the pharmaceutical giant, will cut 1,300 jobs in a bid to save $368 million over the next year and a half, a spokesman said. They will come on top of 1,300 other layoffs after Bayer was forced to withdraw a controversial anti-cholesterol drug from the market last August. Hardest-hit will be the German company's manufacturing and packaging operations in West Haven, Conn., which will be closed by the end of next year.

In a partial rescue of Fingerhut Companies Inc., a former owner of the Minnesota-based catalog retailer said he and a partner had a tentative deal to buy most of its assets. Ted Deikel said it wasn't clear yet how many jobs would be saved. About half of Fingerhut's 6,000 workers have been idle since Federated Department Stores announced in January it would shut down what operations it couldn't sell. Deikel also did not divulge the purchase price.

Troubled Snow Brand Products, the food-marketing company at the center of contaminated-milk and meat-labeling scandals in Japan, was to announce a massive internal shakeup that includes closing plants, laying off 1,000 workers, the resignation of its president, and a planned debt-for-equity swap with major creditors. Two years ago, 13,000 people became ill after drinking Snow Brand milk laced with bacteria that had not been killed in processing.

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