Business & Finance

Qwest Communications International Inc. is in advanced negotiations for a possible $6.3 billion takeover of MCI Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported. The development comes as pressure mounts for further consolidation in the industry, following the announcement earlier this week that SBC Communications will acquire its former parent, AT&T, for $16 billion. Six weeks ago, Sprint and Nextel Communications agreed to a $35 billion merger. Qwest, while saddled with $17.2 billion in debt, sees an opportunity for growth in MCI, whose infrastructure and roster of corporate clients make it attractive, the Journal said. MCI emerged from one of history's largest bankruptcies last year, having rid itself of much of its massive debt.

Yet another reduction of its oil and natural gas reserves - this time by 10 percent - was announced by Royal Dutch/ Shell. But its chief executive told investors he was "confident" this would be the last. In stages, beginning in January 2004, the company cut its proven reserves by 23 percent, triggering a scandal that led to the resignation of its three most senior officers, to investigations by regulators in the US and Britain, and to a series of class-action lawsuits. In October, however, it revealed that only 55 percent of its reserves had been inventoried and that further cuts might be forthcoming. The latest revision leaves Shell with 12.9 billion barrels of proven reserves, defined as those that are commercially feasible to extract from underground, the Financial Times reported.

Eastman Kodak Co., which has struggled to play catch-up in the digital photography revolution, surged past perennial front-runner Sony in the number of point-and-shoot cameras shipped to retailers last year, according to data released by IDC, a research firm that tracks the industry. It said Kodak sold 4.88 million units, compared to Sony's 4.33 million.

JetBlue Airways unveiled plans to increase service out of Boston, adding 500 jobs and expanding from 19 flights a day to 100. JetBlue currently flies to nine cities from Boston - four in Florida, three in California, plus Denver and Las Vegas - but is expected to add new destinations.

Following through with promised details of a restructuring plan, Deutsche Bank said it will cut 5,200 jobs and take a charge against earnings of $1.7 billion. Last month, the German financial services giant refused to confirm published reports that the layoffs were imminent, telling reporters instead to watch for a later announcement.

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