Telstra Plans to Cut Workforce by 23 Percent

Telstra, Australia's biggest telephone company, will fire up to 12,000 workers, or 23 percent of its staff, to revive profit growth as the government prepares to sell its controlling $20 billion stake. The job cuts will be made over five years.

Chief executive Sol Trujillo said annual earnings before interest and taxes may slump by as much as 30 percent. Trujillo took charge of the former government monopoly on July 1 and is seeking cost cuts and new revenue to counter a slump in sales at its fixed-line unit.


Blair Urges Bold Steps on Global Trade

British Prime Minister Tony Blair challenged the United States and the European Union to take bold steps at next month's global trade talks in Hong Kong. "We need a comprehensive, ambitious agreement to cut barriers to trade in the three key areas: agriculture, nonagricultural market access, and services," Blair said in a speech.

Blair said that to break the logjam, the E.U. and the United States need to negotiate further on agriculture and subsidies and that in return, other countries must move on cuts in industrial tariffs.


E.U. Probes Deutsche Telekom Takeover

The European Commission said it will conduct an antitrust investigation into Deutsche Telekom's takeover of Austrian mobile provider TeleRing. The probe gives E.U. regulators 90 working days to make a decision on whether the $1.61 billion takeover of TeleRing by Deutsche Telekom's Austrian T-Mobile unit violates E.U. rules.


7-Eleven Chief Executive Retires

7-Eleven, the convenience-store chain taken private by its Japanese parent company, said chief executive Jim Keyes retired. Toshifumi Suzuki, chairman and chief executive of Seven-Eleven Japan, will be acting president and chief executive until a successor is named. Keyes also resigned from the board.

O2, which last month agreed to be bought by Telefonica, said fiscal first-half profit rose 4.2 percent after the company added subscribers and reduced the flow of customers to competitors. Profit at O2, Britain's biggest cell phone company by subscribers, advanced to $611 million in the six months ended Sept. 30. Sales rose 12 percent. O2 expects the takeover by Spain's Telefonica to close in January.

Compiled from staff and news service reports.