Business & Finance

Trustees of Hershey Foods Corp., the US's largest candymaker, filed an immediate appeal of a Pennsylvania court order blocking them from accepting a buyout offer, no matter how large. But the decision allows suitors to continue bidding if they wish. The ruling was sought by state Attorney General Mike Fisher on grounds that a sale could cause "irreparable harm" to the small town that has been the company's home for 108 years. Rivals expected to offer as much as $15 billion for Hershey include Swiss conglomerate Nestlé, Britain's Cadbury Schweppes PLC, and Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of American tobacco giant Philip Morris.

Bankrupt Global Crossing Ltd. said it plans to write down the value of its assets by at least another $10 billion, following through on a strategy announced months ago in court filings. At the time, the telecommunications giant indicated it would do so once it had an approved deal to sell to other investors. Last month, plans for Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Singapore Technologies Telemedia Ltd. to pay $750 million for 61.5 percent control of the company were OK'd by a federal court in New York. When it filed for bankruptcy in January, Global Crossing listed debts of $12.4 billion and assets of $22.4 billion. The latter have since been lowered to $15.4 billion and now will drop to less than $5 billion.

In layoff news:

• Struggling Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) said 4,500 workers will lose their jobs in a new effort to reduce costs by $1 billion. At the same time, the Swiss insurance giant announced a plan to sell up to $2.5 billion worth of new stock to current shareholders. ZFS reported a $2 billion loss for the first half of 2002, blamed in part on an overaggressive expansion strategy.

• Northwest Airlines announced it will cut 1,000 jobs "as we move out of the summer peak season into our fall schedule."

• dj Orthopedics, a leading maker of supports and surgical devices for hospitals and physical therapists, said it is relocating some of its operations to Mexico. The Vista, Calif., company said that will result in the layoffs of 250 workers, who will be replaced by Mexicans once the move is complete.

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