Business & Finance

United Airlines won tentative approval for $1.5 billion in wage and benefit concessions from the union representing its 37,000 machinists. The union was the last and largest to reach a deal with the carrier on its hoped-for $5.8 billion in labor givebacks, as it pursues a $1.8 billion federal loan guarantee to help avoid bankruptcy.

Vivendi Universal said it is not interested in a $20 billion offer from US oil magnate Marvin Davis and a group of fellow investors for its movie, music, cable-TV, and theme-park operations. The Financial Times quoted sources close to the media giant as saying the offer, which included the assumption of $5 billion in debt, did not reflect the value of those assets. In its report on the matter, The Wall Street Journal said the two sides may hold further discussions, but not until after Jan. 1.

Homebase Ltd., the third-largest do-it-yourself and garden supply superstore chain in Britain, agreed to be acquired by retailing giant GUS PLC for $1.4 billion. Homebase serves about 1 million customers per week from 272 stores, a number that GUS said it plans to increase by 10 over the next three years. GUS, formerly known as Great Universal Stores, has 490 outlets in Britain and South Africa as well as a catalog sales operation.

In layoff news:

• Boeing Co. said it will cut another 5,000 jobs next year as airlines, still struggling in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, postpone plane deliveries. The latest reductions will bring Boeing's layoff tally to almost 35,000 since last year.

• ABN Amro, the Dutch banking giant, is reducing its workforce by another 2,500 people, Agence France-Press reported. Most of the work they performed will be outsourced to computer-services provider Electronic Data Systems of Plano, Texas, the news service said. ABN Amro already has cut 1,900 jobs this year.

• Swiss investment bank UBS Warburg will close the Houston energy-trading operation acquired last February from Enron, The New York Times reported. The Times said fewer than 100 of the operation's 600-plus workers will remain in UBS's employ, and all will be asked to relocate to Stamford, Conn.

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