Business & Finance

MCI, which claimed profits in 2000 and 2001 when it was known as WorldCom, completed a long-awaited financial restatement showing it actually lost $65 billion in those years. The writedown, believed to be the largest in corporate history, came after an intensive examination of the company's books that took almost two years and $150 million. It was hailed by officials of the long-distance telecommunications company as "one of the last remaining milestones on our path to emerge from Chapter 11 [bankruptcy] protection." That is expected to happen next month. Last Friday, the state of Oklahoma agreed to settle its criminal fraud case against MCI in exchange for creating 1,600 new jobs there and for the company's cooperation in prosecuting former executives.

Another new hurdle was strewn in the path of business software giant Oracle Corp. in its $9.4 billion hostile takeover bid for rival PeopleSoft Inc. - this time by European regulators. Late Friday, the European Commission sent the Redwood City, Calif., company a "statement of objections" that, while not made public, is believed to center on the same concerns raised in a lawsuit filed late last month by the US Justice Department and seven states to block any merger between the two. The suit contends that a takeover of PeopleSoft could lead to higher prices, less innovation, and fewer choices for business software buyers. It is scheduled to come to trial June 7 in San Francisco, 2-1/2 weeks before Oracle's offer expires. PeopleSoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., has rejected Oracle at every turn since the takeover battle began more than a year ago.

Cinemark USA Inc., the nation's third-largest movie theater chain, agreed to be acquired by Madison Dearborn Partners Inc. of Chicago, a corporate buyout firm. The $1.5 billion deal includes $560 million in assumed debt. Cinemark, based in Plano, Texas, operates 296 multiplex theaters in the US and Latin America. Meanwhile, the Loews Cineplex chain, which filed for bankruptcy in 2001, put itself on the market Friday.

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