LEGAL

Merck to Seek Delay in Vioxx Trial

Merck is seeking to postpone the next trial over the painkiller Vioxx to allow time for publicity about a Texas verdict to subside. Lawyers for the drug manufacturer will ask New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol E. Higbee on Monday to delay a trial set to begin in Atlantic City on Sept. 12. Jurors in Angleton, Tex., on Aug. 19 ordered Merck pay $253.4 million to the family of Robert Ernst, who died in 2001 at age 59 after taking Vioxx for eight months.

Hedge Fund Faces Fraud Probes

Bayou Group, a Stamford, Conn., hedge fund that shut down last month, is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and state regulators for possible wrongdoing. Hundreds of millions of dollars may be missing from funds managed by Bayou, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing unidentified people. The Connecticut Department of Banking yesterday said it's is investigating Bayou. Federal prosecutors also are looking into the matter, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported.

AUTOMOTIVE

UAW Givebacks at GM Delayed

General Motors plan to stem losses by getting health care concessions from the United Auto Workers faces further delays after the union said it has not finished a study of the world's largest automaker's finances. "We're still analyzing the data," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger told reporters at a meeting in Detroit.

Gettelfinger said last month that GM had failed to convince the union that its challenges are steep enough to warrant health care givebacks. GM contends that health expenses for employees, retirees and dependents make the company uncompetitive against Toyota Motor and other rivals by adding more than $1,500 to the cost of each U.S. vehicle sold.

LABOR

Breakaway Unions Cite Strategy

Unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO hope to rebuild the labor movement by targeting workers in health care, waste management, security, food services and other growing industries.

Andrew L. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, said these businesses, which account for 30 million to 45 million workers, employ a large number of immigrants and minorities who do not have college degrees and aren't paid fairly for their work. "The AFL-CIO was not working," said James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters union, which also broke away. "We're more nimble, and we don't have the big bloated bureaucracy."

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

VoIP 911 Deadline Extended

The Federal Communications Commission extended the deadline from Aug. 30 to Sept. 28 for Internet phone-calling providers to either obtain customers' acknowledgment that their 911 service may not work or cut off service.

MEDIA

SEC Questioning Pixar

Movie studio Pixar said has received a request for information from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which may signal that officials have broadened an investigation that started in May with DreamWorks Animation. Both firms have said DVD sales of hit movies have slowed more quickly than anticipated, raising questions about the timing of such disclosures.

TRADE

Chinese Textile Talks to Resume

The United States and China will hold a second round of talks next week in Beijing aimed at reaching a comprehensive agreement to limit Chinese clothing and textile exports to the United States. A U.S. delegation led by David Spooner, the administration's special textiles negotiator, will meet with Chinese counterparts, the administration said. Spooner had predicted at the end of the first round of discussions earlier this month that a deal could be completed with just one further round of talks. U.S. manufacturers are pushing for an agreement to halt a surge in U.S. imports of Chinese goods that began Jan. 1 with the lifting of global import quotas.

ITALY

Parmalat Sues Over Bond Sales

Parmalat Finanziaria, Italy's largest food company, sued Banca Intesa, seeking $2.3 billion in damages related to bond sales before the dairy's bankruptcy in 2003. Prosecutors investigating the collapse of Parmalat said they have found evidence of a decade of fraud by the company's former management, which allegedly helped conceal billions of euros in losses and debt from investors and regulators.

Compiled from staff and news service reports

Merck faces nearly 5,000 lawsuits related to its painkiller Vioxx, pulled from the market last year.