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J.P. Morgan Chase plans to cut as many as 4,000 jobs in the coming weeks, published reports said. The layoffs follow the company's warning last month of disappointing third-quarter earnings due, in part, to $1.4 billion in bad loans to telecommunications firms, according to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. The newspapers said the layoffs will come mainly in investment-banking divisions in New York and Asia. J.P. Morgan Chase is the US's second-largest financial services company.

Although it is struggling, Abbey National PLC will reject a preliminary offer to merge with the Bank of Ireland, The Times (London) reported. The Times said the combined financial services group would have had a market capitalization of $28.2 billion, making it the 12th largest in Europe. Abbey National, whose shares have lost half their value since opening 2002 at more than $17, unsuccessfully explored mergers with National Australia Bank, Lloyds TSB Group, and Bank of Scotland recently. It is in the midst of a cost-cutting campaign that's expected to result in the layoffs of up to 3,000 employees. Abbey National is based in London.

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Hundreds more jobs are to be cut by Commerzbank, Germany's third-largest, published reports said. Last October, Commerzbank announced 3,400 layoffs, to be phased in over three years.

A deal between AOL Time Warner Inc. and Oxygen Media, the women-oriented cable-TV channel, is under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported. It said federal regulators are looking into whether the same revenue from the agreement was booked at both Time Warner Cable and at America Online, broadening an inquiry already under way into advertising practices at the world's top Internet access provider.