Business & Finance

The heads of Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. have agreed to strengthen their partnership in development of technologies for environmentally friendly vehicles, major Japanese newspapers reported Sunday.

Toyota President Fujio Cho and visiting GM Chief Executive Richard Wagoner met Saturday about stepping up cooperation in areas such as fuel cell-powered vehicles, the national newspaper Yomiuri said. A partnership would allow the world's two biggest automakers to share the cost of developing pollution-free vehicles powered by hydrogen.

American billionaire Malcolm Glazer tightened his control over Manchester United, the world's richest soccer club, on Friday, increasing his stake in the English team to nearly 75 percent. Glazer's Red Football Ltd. said it will borrow $490 million to fund a $1.47 billion takeover by the owner of the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Glazer takeover has infuriated hard-core United fans, who view the American as a mercenary with no affection for the 127-year-old club.

Alaska Airlines will lay off 472 ramp employees at Seattle -Tacoma International Airport, replacing them with contract workers to cut costs amid rising fuel prices and competition from low-cost carriers, the carrier said Friday.

The decision came more than a year and a half after the company set out to reach a contract settlement with ramp workers, who handle baggage and guide planes to and from terminal gates. A union representative said legal action would be taken to to win back workers' jobs. Alaska Airlines is the dominant carrier on north-south routes along the West Coast.

About 1,000 information-technology workers throughout the Walt Disney Co. will have their jobs outsourced by mid-July, but few layoffs are expected, the company announced late last week. Most workers would be moved into new jobs with two vendors, IBM and Affiliated Computer Services Inc., after negotiations are completed this month, the company told employees.

Azienda Energetica Municipale SpA has reached an agree- ment with Électricité de France to acquire joint control of Edison SpA, Italy's second-largest power company, in a deal worth up to $9.2 billion, the companies announced late last week.

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