Business & Finance
As expected, News Corp. announced a deal to take control of satellite broadcaster DirecTV for $6.6 billion in cash and stock. The agreement caps a two-year effort by General Motors to sell Hughes Electronics, DirecTV's parent. News Corp. said Hughes would become part of its Fox Entertainment Group, which operates the Fox TV network.
American Airlines, while insisting it won't renegotiate tentative labor agreements with unions, offered Wednesday to sweeten the package of layoffs and wage cuts that has angered rank-and-file members. The world's largest carrier said it would pay annual bonuses up to 4.5 percent starting in 2006, if its credit ratings return to pre-Sept. 11, 2001, levels. American has warned it will file for bankruptcy if unions don't ratify the $1.8 billion in givebacks.
The money-losing and accident-tainted Concorde will be taken out of service by the end of October, British Airways and Air France announced. Both carriers said revenues from the supersonic passenger jets were losing ground to rising maintenance costs. A round-trip ticket for a trans-atlantic trip can cost up to $13,500, and Air France said four of every five seats per flight go unsold. On July 25, 2000, a Concorde crashed on takeoff from Paris, killing 113 people - an accident from which, analysts said, the needle-nosed jet has never recovered. (Editorial, page 10.)
In major layoff announcements:
• Nokia, the cellphone giant, said it will cut 1,800 more jobs, following last month's warning of a substantial first-quarter operating loss. In February, Nokia announced 550 layoffs.
• The Stanley Works will close four assembly plants and five warehouses, leaving 1,000 employees jobless, about 7 percent of the toolmaker's work force. Stanley is based in New Britain, Conn.
• Procter & Gamble said it will cut 275 jobs at its Jackson, Tenn., plant, which makes Torengos tortilla chips and Pringles.