Business & Finance

As had been rumored, Sean Harrigan was ousted as president of the $177 billion California Public Employees Retirement System Wednesday in a 3-to-2 vote of board members of the nation's largest public pension fund. Harrigan, who used the fund's clout as a major shareholder to push aggressively for corporate reform, will be replaced by Ron Alvarado, whose background is considered more aligned with private business and the government sector. Harrigan has not indicated whether he'll contest his firing.

A year after emerging from bankruptcy, the No. 1 cable-TV operator in Britain and Ireland sold its transmission towers at auction for $2.46 billion. The deal with a consortium of investors from Australia led by Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group frees NTL Inc. to concentrate on its television services and Internet business. The company said it will use proceeds from the sale to repay debt, buy back stock, and increase dividends to shareholders.

Delta Air Lines closed a $1.1 billion financing deal with GE Commercial Finance and American Express Travel Related Services Co. Wednesday that it hopes will allow it to restructure without seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Although viewed as an important short-term step to buy time, analysts said a drop in fuel prices could be more critical to Delta's long-term status. "If fuel prices stay where they are, in a few months Delta could find itself in the same spot it is in right now," one analyst said.

Jiffy Lube International, the oil-change chain, agreed Wednesday to provide 7 million customers with coupons for $5 off a future stop at one of its outlets. The arrangement, OK'd by an Oklahoma state court, settles at least nine lawsuits from California to New Jersey over an environmental surcharge - generally 80 cents to $2 - that an attorney for the plaintiffs called "a clever disguise for profit-enhancement." The settlement does not require Jiffy Lube to admit any wrongdoing.

Citizens Bank, the 12th largest in the US, said it will add 525 jobs over the next 16 months to become Rhode Island's fourth-largest private employer. The bank's parent, Citizens Financial Group, is based in Providence and has roughly 24,000 employees in 13 states.

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