Business & Finance

In a long-awaited formal declaration of its deep financial troubles, international food-marketing giant Royal Ahold NV put its net loss for 2002 at $1.42 billion. At the same time, the company said it expected the figure to climb higher still because of a write-down of the value of some assets due to US accounting rules. Its report was required by Oct. 1 if it was to continue to have access to a $3.1 billion line of credit from lender banks. Ahold's problems began last February when it acknowledged accounting irregularities in certain divisions that had overstated earnings dating back to 2001. The company, based in Zaandaam, the Netherlands, is the world's third-largest food retailer.

J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to a $25 million settlement of a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Regulators had accused the nation's second-largest financial services company of violating rules on stock allocations in initial public offerings by inducing investors to buy additional shares once trading began, which can inflate prices. J.P. Morgan neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

PeopleSoft Inc. confirmed it has begun implementing job cuts that may affect up to 1,000 employees, as a result of a merger with rival J.D. Edwards & Co. PeopleSoft, based in Pleasanton, Calif., previously said it would trim about 7 percent of its workforce to save $207 million this year.

IBM Corp. is laying off 700 US employees in a "skills rebalancing" of its global services unit, the computer giant said Wednesday. IBM has 355,000 employees worldwide.

Volkswagen announced an offer of almost two years' pay, plus other incentives, to almost 2,000 employees in Brazil in exchange for giving up their jobs voluntarily. The auto-maker, which has yet to pull out of a long sales slump there, also said it would pay 40 percent of their wages for each year worked, grant one month of paid leave, and implement a transition program to help them find jobs elsewhere. The company's assembly plants are operating at about 50 percent of capacity and it wants to eliminate 4,000 jobs, but that plan has met stiff resistance.

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