Business & Finance

Enron Corp., its shareholders and former employees, and 11 banks and brokerages were ordered into mediation of their multitude of overlapping lawsuits related to the energy trader's massive collapse. The decision was announced jointly Wednesday by the bankruptcy court in New York and a federal judge in Houston who has been handling the cases. New York District Court Judge Kevin Duffy will try to reach a settlement among the various parties, which also could help Enron to emerge from bankruptcy.

Bankrupt Adelphia Communications Corp., the fifth-largest cable company in the US, said lenders had OK'd a proposal to expand its digital and broadband services, granting access to $1.5 billion in debtor-in-possession financing. Adelphia, based in Coudersport, Pa., serves 5.3 million subscribers in 32 states and Puerto Rico.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. outlined plans to spin off its Medco Health Solutions subsidiary in a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Medco accounts for almost 60 percent of Merck's revenues but has a low profit margin.

Only its pilots union was holding out in Air Canada's bid to win concessions from employees that would lower its labor costs and help in drafting a restructuring plan with its creditors and vendors. The bankrupt carrier and pilots' representatives met late into Wednesday night in Toronto on a proposal that reportedly would lay off 600 employees and cut pay for the remainder by 15 percent. But sources close to the discussions told the National Post newspaper that a deal on those terms seemed out of reach. Earlier Wednesday, the airline and its flight attendants union agreed tentatively on a plan calling for up to 2,000 layoffs. Its machinists and baggage handlers also have OK'd concessions, subject to ratification votes by union rank-and-file.

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