Business & Finance

Steve Case, as expected, stepped down as chairman of AOL Time Warner at the media giant's annual meeting in Lansdowne, Va., Friday. Also as anticipated, shareholders registered their discontent at the low price of company stock by reelecting him to the board of directors by a margin of 78 percent, compared with 98 percent for new chairman Richard Parsons and other board members.

In a deal valued at $3.6 billion, water and sewerage utility Suez SA agreed to sell majority control of its British operations to a consortium of investors led by Germany's Deutsche Bank. The unit, Northumbrian Water Ltd., serves more than 4 million customers. Suez, which is based in Paris, provides electricity, natural gas, water, waste management, and other services to more than 130 countries.

Negotiations on a new three-year contract are to open Monday between General Electric and unions representing almost 25,000 workers in its appliance, aircraft engine, locomotive, power turbine, and medical equipment divisions. The unions are seeking increased pay, job security, and pensions, but the talks are expected to center on healthcare benefits costs, which GE has been trying to lower. The company currently pays more than 80 percent of such costs, but thousands of employees staged a two-day walkout in January in protest after being asked to shoulder more of the burden themselves.

Nine months after coming dangerously close to extinction, telecommunications equipment manufacturer Marconi Corp. is due to complete its restructuring Monday. Analysts said its next tasks will be to address a continuing slump in demand and negative perceptions about its stock, which once traded as high as $18.50 per share but now is valued between 65 cents and 89 cents. At its peak, the company formerly known as Marconi PLC was one of Britain's proudest. But as its markets collapsed, it cut more than 10,000 jobs, sold off some prize assets, and lost several senior executives through resignations.

A federal bankruptcy judge ordered Hawaiian Airlines to be placed under the administration of an independent trustee Friday, after a major creditor accused it of mismanagement. Boeing Capital Corp. said the carrier used $30 million in federal grants to fund a stock buyback benefiting top stakeholders such as chairman and chief executive John Adams, who owns 50.9 percent of Hawaiian's parent. Hawaiian denies any wrongdoing.

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