Business & Finance

Hewlett-Packard, the high-profile maker of computers, printers, and imaging equipment, is expected to announce as soon as Monday that it's laying off between 5,000 and 25,000 employees. Such a move has long been anticipated, and The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, which covers the high-tech industry extensively, reported that H-P employees are calling the impending announcement "the Big One." The massive job cuts, analysts say, are necessary to reduce expenses and to protect Hewlett-Packard's printer business from increased competition from Dell Inc. and other rivals.

Unocal, the oil industry giant at the center of a multi- billion-dollar takeover controversy, was refusing to say whether it would meet again with representatives of CNOOC after its directors declined late last week to renege on their $16.6 billion merger agreement with rival Chevron. CNOOC, China's third-largest oil producer, chose not to increase its bid above $18.5 billion. Instead, it offered to set aside another $2.5 billion for Unocal to help cover itself against any lawsuits by shareholders in case a takeover collapsed. Despite mounting bipartisan opposition in Congress against his company, CNOOC's finance chief told, "I'm feeling positive about [prospects for taking over Unocal], as always." But CNOOC's window would appear to remain open only until Aug. 10, when Unocal shareholders are scheduled to vote on the Chevron merger.

California, Oregon, and Washington State await word from bankruptcy proceedings involving Enron Corp., the former high-flying energy trader, to see how much they'll get from the $1.5 billion that the company admits it owes them in overcharges. That sum was arrived at last Friday, but how far Enron's remaining assets will stretch remains unclear. In all, the company, which sought protection from creditors in 2001 amid accusations of fraud and financial irregularities, faces $65 billion in claims from a long list of disgruntled customers.

ATA Airlines, which is trying to emerge from bankruptcy protection, notified 350 maintenance and 100 call-center employees Friday that their jobs are being outsourced. The move is expected to save $100 million over the next five years.

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