Business & Finance

A second Walt Disney Co. board member quit, vowing to wage a public fight for the removal of chief executive Michael Eisner. Stanley Gold's resignation Monday followed a similar move by Roy Disney, nephew of founder Walt Disney. Gold heads a firm that manages investments for the Disney family. But their departures leave a board that firmly backs Eisner's leadership at a time when the entertainment giant's theme parks, film studios, and ABC-TV network are showing signs of financial improvement, analysts said.

For the first time in more than two years, troubled media/ communications giant Vivendi Universal reported a quarterly profit, exceeding analysts' expectations. The French conglomerate said its net income for the third quarter was $157 million, compared to a net loss of $1.47 billion for the same period in 2002. The turnaround was accomplished chiefly via the sell-off of more than $10 billion in assets and by acquiring majority control of France's No. 2 telephone company, Cegetel, which has had a strong 2003 performance.

In a sign of deepening troubles at Levi Strauss & Co., the world's leading maker of brand-name clothing announced the hiring Monday of turnaround expert Alvarez & Marsal, which recently helped guide the parent company of apparelmaker Calvin Klein out of bankruptcy. Levi's is coping with a seven-year sales slump, credit woes, and allegations of improper accounting.

Another 2,500 jobs will be transferred to India next year by Aviva PLC, Britain's largest insurance company, the Dow Jones financial news service reported. The company already has outsourced - or expects to finish outsourcing by Dec. 31 - 1,200 jobs to India, a move its chief executive defended as "taking action to remain competitive." Aviva would not rule out the possibility of additional outsourcing in the years ahead, Dow Jones said.

PepsiCo announced plans to cut 750 jobs and close a snack manufacturing plant in Louisville, Ky., in an overhaul of its operations. The world's No. 2 soft-drink company said the changes would result in a fourth-quarter charge of 6 cents per share. PepsiCo also said it will begin expensing employee stock options.

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