Business & Finance

After months of turmoil, controversial chief executive Philip Purcell will leave his post at banking giant Morgan Stanley as soon as a successor is appointed, reports said Monday. In a letter released by the company, Purcell wrote, in part: "It has become clear ... that this is the best thing I can do for you, our clients, and our shareholders." The letter indicated he would not stay beyond March, the date of Morgan Stanley's next annual meeting. An earlier report by cable-TV channel CNBC that was gaining wide exposure said Purcell had been fired. In any event, his apparent exit contributed to a 5 percent jump in the preopening Instinet share price of the company's stock. Since March, a group of former executives and disgruntled investors had been campaigning publicly for Purcell's ouster, including taking out full-page ads in major newspapers to register disapproval over the company's performance. According to the financial reporting service, Morgan Stanley was the only one of the nation's five largest securities firms not to achieve record profits in 2004 or in the first quarter of this year. Meanwhile, industry analysts said the shakeup could stem the exodus of high-level employees, among them nine traders who late last week either left or threatened to leave Morgan Stanley to join rival Wachovia.

Airbus, after falling behind archrival Boeing in new orders for the first time in five years, will build up to 60 of its A350 passengers jets for state-owned Qatar Airways, the companies announced Monday at the Paris Air Show. At current list prices, the deal is worth $10.6 billion. But the fast-growing carrier also said it will contract with Boeing for as many as 20 of the latter's 777 widebody planes, worth $4.6 billion.

News Corp., the multimedia empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, announced plans to buy back up to $3 billion worth of its own shares, beginning immediately. Among the company's dozens of assets are the movie studio 20th Century Fox, the Fox family of cable-TV channels, the National Geographic Channel, satellite broadcasters DIRECTV and BSkyB, TV Guide magazine, the Harper Collins publishing house, and such leading newspapers as The Times (London), The Sun (London), The Australian, and the New York Post.

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