Business & Finance

Amid lavish ceremonies Tuesday in Toulouse, France, Airbus is to formally introduce the world's largest passenger jet, the 555-seat A380, a $16 billion project it is hoping will keep it ahead of rival Boeing for at least the next 20 years. The huge plane offers double-decker seating and a range of 8,000 nautical miles, 5 percent farther than Boeing's 747-400, currently the biggest on the market. Airbus is scheduled to deliver the first A380 to Singapore Airlines in June of next year. Boeing, meanwhile, announced it will end the long tradition of commercial airplane production in southern California next year, closing a Long Beach assembly plant after completion of the final 717 jetliner on order. The 717 program, inherited from McDonnell Douglas when the companies merged in 1997, has not met sales expectations.

Software giant Oracle Corp. said it will cut 5,000 jobs as it eliminates administrative and marketing positions made redundant after its $10.3 billion merger with rival PeopleSoft closed Friday. The consolidation, which had been anticipated, will reduce the combined 50,000-person workforce of the two California companies by about 9 percent. Oracle had pursued the bitterly fought takeover for 18 months.

Rather than spin off a profitable division, Hewlett-Packard Co. said it has decided to combine its printing and imaging unit with its underperforming personal computer division. The move offers potential for using the technologies of both units to pursue new opportunities in digital entertainment, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Stiff political opposition and regulatory hurdles were expected for the proposed $4.4 billion takeover of Elsam, Denmark's leading electric utility, by larger Swedish producer Vattenfall AB. The bid expires Feb. 4. Denmark opened its electricity and natural gas sectors to competition two years ago, and analysts described Vattenfall's offer as "very good." But it conflicts with the Copenhagen government's plans to create an energy giant by linking Elsam with the state-owned oil and gas company.

Foster's, one of the world's leading brewers and vintners, was rebuffed in a $2.4 billion hostile takeover bid for Australian rival Southcorp Ltd. But the latter's board called the offer "inadequate and opportunistic," and analysts said they wouldn't be surprised if even larger wine sellers such as Constellation Brands of New York or Britain's Diageo PLC and Allied Domecq PLC weighed in with higher bids.

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