Business & Finance

All nine labor unions representing Alitalia employees said they're prepared to accept a new plan worked out in negotiations with the government late last week to keep the airline from collapsing. But the plan is only in the preliminary stages; the final version is not expected for months. Among its few known details: a demand for the resignations of Alitalia's chairman and chief executive officer; the downsizing of its board of directors; an unspecified infusion of new capital; and an agreement by the unions not to stage further wildcat strikes. The new plan makes no reference to massive layoffs, the issue that triggered almost two weeks of chaos at the struggling government-owned carrier.

A massive $4.3 billion refinery and petrochemical plant will be built jointly by the world's largest oil producer, Saudi Aramco, and the largest maker of the compounds used in insecticides, Sumitomo Chemical Co. of Japan, they announced. The project, at Rabigh on the Saudi Red Sea coast, is expected to be completed in 2008.

Sprint Corp. plans to lay off an additional 550 employees by the end of the year as a result of the ongoing restructuring of its wireless and traditional phone divisions, the company announced Friday. As of March 31, Sprint had furloughed 1,750 of a previously projected 2,000 workers. The company is based in Overland Park, Kansas, and employs about 70,000 people.

Allegheny Technologies Inc. and the United Steelworkers of America agreed to a deal that paves the way for the former to buy rival J&L Specialty Steel of Coraopolis, Pa. A new collective bargaining agreement, expected to be ratified by May 28, is a condition of the purchase, whose terms have not been disclosed, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

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