Business & Finance

Michael Eisner said he'll end more than two decades as chief executive of Walt Disney Co. when his contract expires Sept. 30, 2006. During his tenure, Disney has gone from being primarily a theme park and animation business to a diversified giant, buying the ABC and ESPN television networks, partnering with Pixar Studios on box- office blockbusters such as "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," and becoming a major cruise ship operator. In the turbulent past year, however, the company had to fight off an unsolicited takeover bid, while Eisner narrowly survived a shareholder rebellion aimed at ousting him. In the process, his job was split in two, and he was stripped of his chairmanship. The post was awarded to former US Senate majority leader George Mitchell.

A new window of opportunity opened for US Airways as the union representing its 3,000 pilots agreed Friday to return to negotiations on $295 million in givebacks that the beleaguered carrier is seeking. No date was announced for the resumption, but earlier in the same week the union was refusing to refer the carrier's proposals to its membership for ratification. In its latest offer, the airline said it would keep pay as close as possible to current levels although pilots would be asked to work longer hours. US Airways has been warning that without more givebacks by employees - also including a combined $501 million from flight attendants, mechanics, baggage handlers, and customer service and reservations agents - it would have to declare bankruptcy by the middle of this month. It is due to make a $110 million contribution to the pilots' pension fund Wednesday and other obligations are due at the end of the month on financing agreements for its planes.

In a first for Boeing Co., the airline of the United Arab Emirates announced it would order five of the company's long-haul 777-300ER jets, worth up to $1.2 billion. Etihad Airways, which is coming up on its first anniversary in business, previously has bought planes from Boeing's rivals, notably Airbus Industrie.

Belden CDT Inc., a maker of high-speed electronic cable and other connectivity products, will lay off more than 500 employees, it announced Friday. Operations will be affected in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as in Britain and the Netherlands. Belden is based in St. Louis.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which has struggled in recent years to recover from a major restructuring, said it will eliminate 340 jobs at several unnamed facilities in North America and Europe. Goodyear is based in Akron, Ohio.

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