Business & Finance

The generous severance package given to WorldCom's ex-chief executive, Bernard Ebbers, is being reconsidered by the board of the bankrupt communications giant, The Wall Street Journal reported. Benefits include $1.5 million a year in retirement pay, lifetime use of the corporate jet, and a low-interest $408 million loan. Ebbers's successor, John Sidgmore, also was expected to ask the board to begin looking for a replacement, the Journal said.

A steep decline in funding for high-tech startup companies has the world's leading maker of chips "frustrated," the Financial Times reported. In an industry that relies heavily on innovation, Intel Corp. has been unable to find venture-capital partners willing to invest in new companies with cutting-edge ideas. Intel's investments may drop to as little as $175 million this year from more than $1 billion in 2000, the newspaper said. The reversal is blamed on a downturn in information technology-related markets. Meantime, the Santa Clara, Calif., company has stepped up internal research and development, explaining "... when you see a crash, you step on the accelerator because everyone else is stepping on the brake."

Unionized employees may hold more strikes in protest, but the privatization of Air France will proceed regardless, the Paris government's transport minister said. A four-day walkout by pilots last weekend, while mostly over a pay dispute, was the latest in a series by the national carrier's union members, many of whom say they're worried about the potential loss of special privileges once the government no longer owns it. The state holds a 56 percent interest in Air France and "probably" will keep less than half of that in a sale to private investors that's expected within months, the transport minister said.

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