Business & Finance

Microsoft soon will present European Union antitrust regulators with a detailed proposed settlement on alleged anticompetitive practices, The Wall Street Journal reported. The paper said the EU so far has been cool to suggestions that an accord Microsoft reached last year with US regulators would satisfy its concerns as well.

Eastman Kodak announced 2,900 more job cuts and slashed its 2003 outlook, citing the soft US economy. Still, after an aggressive cost-reduction effort, the nation's leading maker of photo equipment posted a $113 million profit in the fourth quarter, compared with a $206 million loss for the same period last year.

In the latest in a series of acquisitions, BB&T Corp. announced plans to buy First Virginia Banks Inc. of Falls Church, Va., via a stock swap valued at $3.4 billion. The deal would create the US's 11th largest banking company. BB&T is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., and has 1,100 branches in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

Responding negatively to a third hostile bid by the nation's largest shopping mall owner, Simon Property Group, the board of rival Taubman Centers Inc. called the $1.74 billion takeover offer "inadequate, opportunistic, and clearly not in the best interests of ... shareholders." Simon is suing Taubman Centers for refusing to consider its offers.

Angry stockholders informed bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp. that they intend to fight a deal that would pay its two new top executives almost $41 million in salaries, bonuses, and one-time awards of stock. Adelphia is the US's fifth-largest cable TV operator. The shareholders' attorney said his clients believe the compensation is too generous for a company Adelphia's size and will ask a bankruptcy court to reject it. Adelphia sought protection from creditors last year, citing billions of dollars in debt incurred by the family of founder John Rigas. Rigas, who has resigned, awaits trial on federal fraud charges.

After warning of its first yearly loss in three decades, insurance giant Generali announced it will cut 2,800 jobs, although it also hinted at the possibility of buying up European rivals. The 171-year-old Trieste-based company is Italy's largest carrier and ranks fourth in Europe.

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