Business & Finance

In its second major announcement in two weeks, photography giant Eastman Kodak said it will cut up to 15,000 jobs by the end of 2006. The company projected that the move will result in a saving of at least $800 million a year and said it plans to take a $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion charge to cover severance pay and other related costs. A spokeswoman said it was too soon to specify the divisions and locations that will be affected. Last week, Kodak said it will stop making two types of conventional cameras in North America and Western Europe by year's end as it focuses on digital photography.

Liberty Media Corp., the holding company of investor John Malone, revealed Wednesday it has acquired a 9.1 percent voting stake in News Corp., raising its total equity interest in the Australia-based communications empire to 17 percent. The purchase, reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, gives Liberty Media the second-largest voting bloc in News Corp. after chief executive Rupert Murdoch and his family. Liberty Media, of Englewood, Colo., owns the QVC cable-TV channel and stakes in E! and the Discovery Channel.

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis asked permission from shareholders to buy back up to $2.4 billion of its own stock. The Swiss company also repeated denials that it's planning any significant mergers or takeovers, particularly of rival Roche. Last year, Novartis revealed it had quietly accumulated one-third of Roche's voting shares. But its chairman told CNBC, the cable-TV business news channel, that a merger would require a stronger commitment than either company appeared ready to make.

Low-fare airline JetBlue said it is seeking approval to expand service into and out of New York. The carrier applied Wednesday to the Transportation Department for five daily round-trip flights from LaGuardia Airport. It is based at the city's larger John F. Kennedy International and claims to carry more passengers through there than any other airline. Meanwhile, American Airlines and United, the nation's largest carriers, agreed to temporary flight cutbacks to ease congestion at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration recently reported a record 15,000 delayed arrivals - averaging 62 minutes - at O'Hare in November.

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