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BUSINESS IN BRIEF

WorldCom Investors Settle

Saturday, November 6, 2004; Page E02

A federal judge approved a $2.575 billion settlement of a class-action lawsuit by WorldCom investors who claimed they were defrauded by Citigroup, the second-largest settlement ever in a securities fraud case. When the tentative pact was announced by Citigroup in May, it was for $2.65 billion, but the agreement presented to the judge was reduced by $75 million. Investors accused Citigroup of hiding WorldCom's financial risks when it helped sell $10 billion of WorldCom debt in 2001.

Consumer Credit Up in September

Consumer credit rose in September, the Federal Reserve said. The figure increased by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.8 percent from the previous month, or by $9.8 billion. The total outstanding consumer credit is $2.05 trillion.

MORE NEWS

Purdue Pharma and West Virginia settled a lawsuit that accused the company of dishonestly marketing the painkiller OxyContin. The company and the state attorney general's office, which filed the lawsuit, would not disclose the settlement's terms. A judge approved the settlement Thursday before jury selection was to begin.

Halliburton told the Defense Department's inspector general that two former employees may have inappropriately solicited or accepted payments from a subcontractor in Kuwait. The company did not elaborate.

SBC Communications said it expects to cut at least 10,000 jobs -- 6 percent of its workforce -- by the end of next year through layoffs and attrition. SBC has eliminated 7,000 jobs in the past year.

The jury that found five men guilty of helping push through Enron's 1999 sham sale of power barges to Merrill Lynch deliberated without reaching a conclusion on factors that could increase the defendants' prison sentences to a dozen years or more. The jurors will advise U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. of their findings. The judge retains authority to sentence the defendants. Deliberations will continue Monday.

Wachovia, the fourth-largest U.S. bank, refunded $18 million in discounts to some mutual fund investors. Wachovia agreed in February to pay a $4.8 million fine to settle Securities and Exchange Commission and NASD allegations that it failed to pass on volume discounts to some large mutual fund clients.

CNA Financial said Craig Mense will become the insurance company's chief financial officer on Nov. 29. He will succeed Robert V. Deutsch, who held the post from August 1999 until last month. Mense is a former St. Paul Travelers executive.

Sullivan & Cromwell, the 11th-largest U.S. law firm by revenue, hired two U.S. prosecutors who helped convict Martha Stewart and former Credit Suisse First Boston banker Frank P. Quattrone: Steven R. Peikin, co-chief of the securities fraud unit of the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan; and Karen Patton Seymour, chief of the criminal division.

INTERNATIONAL

Molson, concerned about having enough shareholder support to complete its merger with Adolph Coors Co., said the companies have agreed to pay a special dividend of $316 million to Molson's shareholders, excluding the Molson-family-controlled Pentland Securities. The merger is subject to approval by U.S. and Canadian regulators and shareholders.

EARNINGS

Sun Microsystems reduced its fiscal first-quarter loss to $147 million as it finalized the accounting for its $92 million patent settlement with Eastman Kodak over the Java programming technology. Sun lost $286 million in the comparable quarter a year earlier. Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 26 was $2.63 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company run by Warren E. Buffett, said profit fell for a third straight quarter, largely because of its insurance units' cost of paying claims after hurricanes. Third-quarter profit fell 37 percent, to $1.14 billion.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.


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