Business & Finance

ExxonMobil promoted Rex Tillerson to president, positioning him to take over for chief executive officer Lee Raymond, analysts said. Tillerson, an engineer who has spent his entire career with the energy giant, heads its exploration and production business and has experience in Russia, where the company is working on a $12 billion project. He had been seen as one of two leading candidates to replace Raymond, who was scheduled to retire last August 2003 but agreed to stay on until a successor could be selected and groomed. No new date, however, has been set for Raymond to step down.

A lawsuit aimed at blocking Oracle Corp., a major manufacturer of corporate accounting and human-resources software, from acquiring rival PeopleSoft was filed in Washington late last week by the Justice Department and seven states. It had widely been expected since Justice Department lawyers recommended against such a takeover in a finding that became public Feb. 10. The suit contends that Oracle's $9.4 billion hostile buyout offer could lead to higher prices, less innovation, and fewer choices for customers of big-business software. PeopleSoft has rejected Oracle at every turn since the latter opened its takeover bid last summer. PeopleSoft and Oracle are the world's second- and third-largest suppliers of such software, respectively, behind only Germany's SAP, which has 20,000 clients, among them General Motors, ChevronTexaco, and Sony Corp.

Executives of two of the major banks in Taiwan were not answering phone calls seeking comment on a published report that they may announce a merger after the island's March 20 presidential election. The Commercial Times said Hua Nan Financial Holdings Co. and First Financial Holding Co. were known to be interested in joining forces as recently as last December and that President Chen Shui-bian has been promoting consolidation of the banking sector so that Taiwan can compete with financial institutions overseas. The Taipei government owns controlling interest in both banks. A Hua Nan-First Financial merger would create an institution with just under $90 billion in assets, making it the island's largest bank.

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