Business & Finance

Sprint Corp. said it will buy its largest cellphone affiliate, US Unwired Inc. of Louisiana, for $1 billion. The deal appears to end the latter's legal fight to stop Sprint and Nextel Communications from merging and allows Sprint to expand its service by 500,000 subscribers in nine Southern states. Sprint had been accused of using unfair business practices to try to ruin U.S. Unwired.

Bankrupt United Airlines will call back 600 flight attendants by Aug. 9 and 850 more by the end of November, the company announced. The attendants earlier took voluntary layoffs as the carrier struggled to cut costs. But business has picked up and flights last month were 88.1 percent full, a company record.

In a deal valued at just under $1 billion, the largest operator of commercial parking facilities in Britain, NCP, will be acquired by the London buyout firm 3i Group, reports said. NCP also manages on-street parking for local governments. It has been owned for the past three years by rival buyout specialist Cinven.

Royal Dutch/Shell agreed to pay $90 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in New Jersey. The plaintiffs sued after Shell repeatedly lowered its estimated oil and natural gas reserves last year, ultimately saying they were 25 percent below what had been reported originally. The new settlement comes on top of roughly $150 million in fines imposed on the company by regulators in the US and Britain.

Sara Lee, the food and consumer goods company, will cut 775 jobs from the division that makes Champion sportswear and Playtex, L'eggs, and Bali intimate apparel, it said Monday. The division is being spun off into a separate, publicly traded company next year. About 400 of the layoffs will come in North Carolina, with the rest occurring in Mexico and Canada.

One week after announcing the layoffs of 1,000 employees, British supermarket operator Asda Group said it will hire 2,250 people for "frontline customer service" jobs in its stores. Asked about the timing, a spokesman said it would have been "insensitive" to discuss the latter move "when some of our colleagues were facing uncertainty about their roles." Asda is a subsidiary of retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores.

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