Business & Finance

Despite assurances that it was unaware of "any other problems" not already reported, international food- retailing giant Royal Ahold has found still more evidence of fraud in one of its subsidiaries, the Financial Times and reported. They said the Dutch company blamed "intentional accounting irregularities" at its Tops Markets chain in New York State and Ohio for another $29 million in inflated profits. Royal Ahold's problems surfaced Feb. 24, when it revealed that the earnings of its US Foodservice division had been overstated by at least $500 million for 2001 and 2002. Later, that amount was raised to $880 million. Investigations into the accounting practices at all of the company's subsidiaries are expected to be completed within two weeks.

British Airways is considering ways to block a potential tie-up between rival Virgin Atlantic and regional carrier BMI British Midland, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper said that could include bids for either of those airlines. Virgin and BMI confirmed last week that they've discussed a merger but said recent talks have focused on greater cooperation, such as code sharing.

As many as 4,000 employees will be laid off over the next two years by troubled Resona Bank, the fifth-largest in Japan, published reports said. Resona also may cancel its traditional summer bonus to employees, the reports said. Earlier this month, the Osaka institution said it expects to post a $7.3 billion loss for fiscal 2002 and will need a government bailout of perhaps $17 billion.

Another 700 jobs will be cut by TeliaSonera, the recently merged communications company of Finland and Sweden announced. All will come in Sweden. They are likely to be followed later this year by up to 800 more, the company said. Four hundred layoffs were announced earlier in Finland as TeliaSonera began integrating the two work forces.

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