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US Airways hubs in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, N.C., were expected to be hit hardest if, as planned, the carrier shut down rather than submit to random walkouts by its 10,000 flight attendants. The airline and members of the Association of Flight Attendants confronted a midnight Friday strike deadline if contract negotiations overseen by the National Mediation Board failed to produce an agreement. US Airways was offering a plan that would link pay to the average of the nation's four largest carriers, plus 1 percent. But the union said the offer actually represented a 5 percent cut in pay and benefits. Flight-attendant pay ranges from $17,145 to $36,918.

A 28.5 percent share, with an option to buy more in three years, was purchased in Germany's Mobilcom phone company by France Telecom. The $3.6 billion deal will give the buyer a long-sought foothold in the lucrative German market. France Telecom last year failed in its bid to buy E-Plus Mobilfunk, another German telecommunications group. Mobilcom has a customer base of more than 3 million.

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