Business & Finance

MCI Inc., the former WorldCom, emerged from the largest bankruptcy in US corporate history with almost $7 billion in liquid assets and a new strategy aimed at developing Internet phone service for its customers. The company slashed its $41 billion debt to about $5 billion, and all of the senior executives and board members who contributed to its massive accounting scandal have been replaced. But analysts warned that MCI still confronts major challenges, among them a telecommunications industry that may be even more competitive than before the scandal erupted two years ago.

McDonald's Corp. quickly named Australian-born president and chief operating officer Charles Bell as its new top executive. He succeeds Jim Cantalupo, who died while attending the company's franchisee convention in Florida Monday. Cantalupo's duties as chairman will be assumed at least temporarily by executive board president Andrew McKenna, the company said.

The president of US Airways Group resigned "in the best interests of the company" after angering employee unions with his demands for deep cost savings. David Siegel will be succeeded by executive board member Bruce Lakefield, who reportedly has been on better terms with the unions. Siegel led the carrier out of bankruptcy last year, partly on the strength of $2 billion in cost cuts, but was insisting that almost $2 billion more in labor concessions were needed to make it competitive.

Tesco, the supermarket giant and largest employer in Britain after the government, announced it will hire 20,000 more people over the next 12 months. The company said half the jobs will go to central Europe and Asia, where it is building 51 "hypermarkets."

BlueCross/Blue Shield, the nationwide healthcare plans, announced formation of a task force Monday to crack down on insurance fraud that has grown to $50 billion "and is getting bigger." The association said its investigators will work with local and federal law-enforcement agencies, among them the FBI and the inspector-general of the Department of Health and Human Services. It cited such abuses as billing for a higher level of care than was provided and kickbacks to doctors and hospitals for unnecessary procedures.

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