Business & Finance

Comcast Corp. announced its pursuit of The Walt Disney Co. is over. The nation's largest cable-TV operator surprised the entertainment industry Feb. 11 with an offer worth $54 billion in stock and assumption of debt at a time when Disney was beset with internal controversy over the future of chairman and chief executive officer Michael Eisner. But Disney's management and board of directors immediately rejected the bid and have shown no sign since of a change of mind. Comcast chief Brian Roberts said Wednesday: "We have always been disciplined in our approach to acquisitions. Being disciplined means knowing when it is time to walk away. That time is now."

In a related move, Eisner won a vote of "complete confidence" from Disney's board for his "strategic growth plan," while the company's by-laws were amended to give new chairman George Mitchell the power of review over that plan, over executive performance, and over the line of succession to senior management posts. The roles of chairman and president were split last month after a revolt by dissident shareholders who sought to oust Eisner after 18 years at Disney's helm.

Royal Dutch/Shell advised employees to expect as many as 2,800 layoffs over the next two years and the transfer of some jobs to India and Malaysia. The oil industry giant said any such moves would affect only its information technology (IT) and contractor ranks. Although the company has been in the headlines in recent months for sizable reductions in its estimated oil and natural gas reserves - and for the resignations of key senior executives - a spokeswoman said the IT overhaul has been in the planning stages for two years.

Unisys Corp., a leader in the IT consulting and services industry, announced it will hire 2,000 more employees. But a senior executive said most of them will be assigned to its operations in Bangalore, India, and that an unspecified number would be offset by "some job redundancy" (layoffs) in the US. He said clients had told Unisys: "If you have your own guys in India, I will go with you. Otherwise, I will go to somebody else." Unisys is based in the Philadelphia suburb of Blue Bell, Pa.

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