Business & Finance

Citing a $19.3 billion pension-fund gap, General Motors announced plans Friday for a $10 billion bond issue. The world's leading automaker is far from alone, the Financial Times reported. A study by investment bank UBS found that Standard & Poor's 500 companies confronted a $239 billion pension-fund shortfall at the end of May, which was projected to reach $278 billion by the end of the year, the newspaper said.

Despite its money-losing record, aerospace contractor EADS (European Aeronautic Defense & Space) won a $3 billion order to build 30 rockets for Arianespace, the French commercial satellite-launching service. Deliveries, at the rate of five a year, are expected to begin in 2005.

Twenty-one states, hoping that Boeing will choose one of them as the site for its new assembly plant, are believed to have submitted confidential bids to the aerospace giant, proposing millions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives, reports said. Boeing is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to go ahead with the 7E7 Dreamliner jet, its first new plane design since the 777.

Meanwhile, as more than 850 Boeing employees were in their final day on the payroll Friday, the company announced layoff notices for another 845 workers. The job cuts, most of which will come in the division that builds commercial jets in Washington State, take effect Aug. 22. They will put Boeing within 1,100 of its 35,000 target announced as part of a cost-cutting plan that began in December 2001. In other layoff news:

• Perdue Farms Inc., a leading supplier of poultry to the retail market, said it will close plants in North Carolina and Virginia in August and September, respectively, affecting 900 jobs.

• Struggling to reverse a major drop in earnings, the Dutch-Belgian financial group Fortis said it will lay off 750 employees of its insurance divisions by 2006.

• Rolls-Royce Corp. said it will cut 520 jobs beginning next month at its jet engine plant in Indianapolis.

• Eastman Kodak Co. had no immediate comment on a broadcast report in Rochester, N.Y., that it will close a single-use camera plant there, affecting 500 jobs.

Truck-rental and storage-leasing giant Amerco sought protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. But the filing Friday in Nevada did not include its main subsidiary, U-Haul, or two insurance units, the Financial Times reported. The company's re- organization is not expected to affect those operations.

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