Business & Finance

General Electric, Ford, Royal Dutch/Shell, and the Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson were among 250 multinational companies set to petition the US Supreme Court Monday to limit their vulnerability to asbestos-exposure lawsuits, The Financial Times reported. At issue is a suit by 8,000 claimants set for trial in West Virginia Sept. 23, although 200,000 other cases have been filed against corporate defendants. Estimates that asbestos-related judgments may cost companies and their insurers in the US alone up to $275 billion may be too low, the newspaper said, as lawyers seek compensation for people whose health was put at risk by exposure to the insulation fiber linked to cancer – even though they haven't been diagnosed as ill. Such "unimpaired" cases have driven 20 companies into bankruptcy over the past two years.

IBM and Movielink struck a three-year deal for the computing giant to provide technology and web-hosting services to the Internet film-rental venture. Terms of the deal were not made public. Movielink is a joint venture among five major studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, and Warner Bros., that would allow broadband Internet users to download films to personal computers.

Intelsat, the world's third-largest communications satellite system, has made a hostile takeover bid worth as much as $4 billion for European competitor Eutelsat, The Wall Street Journal reported. At the same time, the newspaper said, PanAmSat Corp. of Wilton, Conn., is pursuing Eutelsat, but without a formal offer so far. A linkup of Paris-based Eutelsat with either company would rival SESGlobal of Luxembourg for the industry leadership. The satellite industry is in turmoil because of excess capacity and falling stock prices, the Journal said. Intelsat is incorporated in Bermuda but keeps its headquarters in Washington.

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