Business & Finance

Software power Oracle Corp.'s hostile takeover bid for rival Peoplesoft Inc. took a new turn late last week when the former cut its offer almost 20 percent, to $7.7 billion. The move was attributed to the almost 25 percent drop in the share price of Peoplesoft stock so far this year. An antitrust case brought by the Justice Department and seven states that seeks to block the merger is scheduled to go to trial June 7 in San Francisco. Peoplesoft, of Pleasanton, Calif., has rejected each of Oracle's bids, which began at $5.1 billion in the summer of 2002, and rose to $9.4 billion.

In a wave of layoff announcements:

• More than 3,000 employees will lose their jobs as Pemex, the state-owned oil company of Mexico, consolidates operations, the government's Energy Ministry said. All of those affected are nonunion, but the ministry said it has been negotiating with union leaders on payroll cuts because of "the need by all of us to make an effort for Pemex to be more efficient." The company employs 143,000 people, more than 90,000 of whom belong to unions. It posted an $86 million net loss for the year's first quarter, compared to a profit of $409 million for the comparable period last year.

• Timken Co., a leading maker of bearings and alloy steels, said it will cut 1,300 jobs and close three plants in Canton, Ohio. No timetable was given for shifting production to other US plants.

• Bank of America expects to cut at least 500 jobs in Massachusetts over the next two years as the result of its merger with FleetBoston Financial Corp, state officials said late last Thursday. But the layoffs will be offset partially by moving some divisions to Boston from Bank of America's Charlotte, N.C., headquarters.

• US Airways, in moving to increased automation, has notified the Communications Workers of America it will lay off 200 gate agents in the fall, mostly in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; and Charlotte, N.C., a union spokesman said. Equipment that reads bar codes on tickets will be tested over the summer.

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