Business & Finance

PeopleSoft Inc. completed its $1.8 billion acquisition of business software rival JD Edwards & Co. Friday, in what industry analysts said is a blow to the unsolicited bid for the buyer by Oracle Corp. But an Oracle spokesman said his company remains determined, even though that objective will now require it to take on Edwards as well. Oracle would have to raise its $6.3 billion offer for PeopleSoft by at least $1 billion for the combined company, the analysts said. PeopleSoft is based in Pleasanton, Calif.; Oracle in Redwood Shores, Calif; and Edwards in Denver.

Ford Motor Co. said it will cut up to 2,000 nonunion jobs by year's end as part of an overall $2.5 billion cost-saving drive. The move, announced Friday, also includes such measures as reduced overtime and a hiring freeze. The company is in the second year of a restructuring plan and began negotiations earlier last week on a new contract with the United Auto Workers Union in which it hopes to win consent for closing four assembly plants. Despite its austerity measures, Ford reported only a $3 million before-taxes profit in the year's second quarter, due in part to a strong performance by its financing unit, Ford Credit.

Acting quickly, tobacco giant Philip Morris USA asked the Illinois Supreme Court to uphold the reduced $6.8 billion bond that a lower court was ordered last week to reconsider. That ruling gives Madison County Judge Nicholas Byron 30 days to reinstate the $12 billion bond the company originally was required to post if it wished to appeal the penalty imposed on it after losing a class-action suit by plaintiffs who accused it of misleading smokers through its advertising to believe that so-called "light" cigarettes are less harmful to human health than regular cigarettes. Philip Morris has argued that the penalty, $10.1 billion, plus the $12 billion bond would both force it out of business and put it into default on its share of the $206 billion settlement the tobacco industry reached with 37 states in 1998.

Ohio and California sued media giant AOL Time Warner Inc. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in investments lost by state public-employee pension funds. The suits, filed Friday in Columbus and Sacramento, respectively, accuse the company of misleading investors about its financial condition prior to the 2001 merger that created it. Instead of joining a class-action lawsuit filed by individual investors, Ohio's five pension funds and the Bureau of Workers Compensation - which lost more than $100 million - filed their litigation under a statute that covers institutional investors. California's Public Employees' Retirement System is seeking recovery of $250 million.

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