Business & Finance

A class-action lawsuit brought by Wal-Mart Stores and other retailers against Visa USA and MasterCard International goes to trial Monday in federal court in New York. The retailers contend that the main credit-card issuers' debit-card policies violate antitrust laws and result in excessive fees. MasterCard and Visa insist their "honor all cards" policies uphold payment choices for cardholders.

PepsiCo, the world's No. 2 soft-drink bottler, outlined plans to repurchase as much as $2 billion, or 2.7 percent, of its outstanding stock this year, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Friday. The buyback would increase earnings per share, the company said.

Honda and Mazda became the latest major automakers in Japan to post record profits for 2002, and Toyota is expected to make the situation unanimous early next month. On Friday, Honda reported a net profit of $3.5 billion; Mazda said it earned a $200.2 million profit. Toyota's 2002 results are due to be released May 8. Nissan and Mitsubishi already have said 2002 was a profitable year for them. Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Mazda all came close to bankruptcy in recent years before being rescued by Renault, DaimlerChrysler, and Ford, respectively.

In layoff developments:

• In the first of "several" layoff notices, the struggling French engineering group Alstom announced 3,000 job cuts in its power-systems division. Later notices, which unions suggested may affect up to 10,000 workers, will come in the transport, marine, and other units, the company said. Alstom also is expected to announce the sale of its industrial turbines division to Germany's Siemens conglomerate as soon as Monday.

• Another 650 jobs will be cut by Alcatel, the French telecommunications equipment giant said. Alcatel has laid off tens of thousands of employees since early 2001.

• Pratt & Whitney, a leading maker of jet engines, announced 180 layoffs as it completes plans to outsource warehousing and other noncore operations by fall. The company is based in East Hartford, Conn.

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