Business & Finance

Heading off a threatened strike, Goodyear Tire & Rubber reached a tentative deal with the United Steelworkers of America Wednesday on a new three-year contract for 16,000 workers at 14 plants in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, and eight other states. Details weren't released pending a vote by union members, but talks centered on company demands to cut jobs and health benefits in the wake of a record $1.1 billion loss in 2002.

In the largest leveraged buyout in Japan's history, New York investment fund Ripplewood Holdings agreed to buy the Japanese fixed-line business of Britain's Vodafone for $2.2 billion, reported. A spokesman for Vodafone said the world's largest mobile-phone operator would use proceeds of the cash and stock deal to cut debt.

Monsanto Co. and Solutia Inc. agreed to a $700 million settlement with more than 20,000 residents of Anniston, Ala., over decades-old PCB contamination from a chemical plant. Monsanto and Solutia, a former subsidiary, are based in St. Louis.

Walt Disney Co.'s vice chairman plans to sell 43 percent of his company holdings for $125 million over five years. Roy Disney, nephew of founder Walt Disney, Wednesday announced the agreement with Credit Suisse First Boston. Though he's been critical in the past of chief executive Michael Eisner, a company statement said the move was meant to "diversify [Disney's] investment portfolio."

Enron Corp.'s Houston headquarters are for sale, the company's real estate firm announced Wednesday. No price has been set for the 50-story glass edifice, valued by the county government at $92.5 million. The remaining 1,300 employees at the former energy trading giant, which collapsed in December 2001, will move to a smaller space early next year, a spokesman said.

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