Business & Finance

General Motors has invested $3 billion in a special trust fund to cover healthcare expenses of retired workers, citing strong cash flow in the first six months of 2003, the Financial Times reported. The move, disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday, follows warnings that Detroit's auto-makers confront dangerously underfunded pension liabilities. It brought GM's total assets in its Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association to $9.7 billion, up from $5.8 billion in December.

Technology buyout and venture capital group Silver Lake Partners will try to raise as much as $4 billion next month via the most ambitious pitch of what has been a dismal year for private-equity fund-raising, the Financial Times reported. Silver Lake, based in Menlo Park, Calif., counts Microsoft's Bill Gates, Oracle's Larry Ellison, and Michael Dell of Dell Computer among its investors.

Hewlett-Packard was unveiling more than 100 new products at introductory ceremonies in New York Monday. The digital cameras, printers, video and music players, and other items were developed in the wake of last year's record acquisition of Compaq Computer, The Los Angeles Times reported, and reflect a major drive by H-P into the fusion of technology and entertainment products.

In another hint that the $1.4 billion sale of Vivendi Universal's publishing business could be in trouble, European Union antitrust regulators "stopped the clock" for the second time on their review of the planned deal with Lagardère SCA of Paris. The latter, a conglomerate whose interests also include aerospace systems, commercial aircraft, automobile manufacturing, satellite TV, and Internet enterprises, has yet to comply with repeated requests for what the EU said is "essential" information relating to the sale. The deadline for the regulators' decision on the deal, originally Oct. 9, now has been pushed back to Dec. 3. Lagardère's publishing empire includes French-language books and Elle and Car & Driver magazines.

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