Business & Finance

Ford Motor Co. may have to bring about $1.7 billion in off-balance-sheet costs onto its books because of tougher accounting rules in the wake of the Enron scandal, the Financial Times reported. In a filing last Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company acknowledged that the change could have a "material impact" on this year's earnings. The exposure involves the portfolio of loans made to car- and truck-buyers through Ford Credit, the automaker's financing arm, the newspaper said. Ford's disclosure follows similar moves by General Motors and Merrill Lynch.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is hiring another 300 workers at its plant in Normal, Ill., as part of a plan to boost thriving North America operations, Japan's No. 4 automaker said. Mitsubishi also is considering building another assembly plant in the US, Canada, or Mexico, or sharing a facility owned by partner DaimlerChrysler.

Oil industry giant Royal Dutch/Shell will announce today that it's cutting as many as 500 jobs from its operations in the North Sea, the Financial Times reported. It said crude output from the company's wells there has slid below the target range of 13 percent to 15 percent of what they produced at their peak. At the same time, the British government has hiked its tax rate on oil companies operating in the North Sea by 10 percent.

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