Merrill Lynch to lay off up to...


Merrill Lynch to lay off up to 500

Merrill Lynch & Co., the nation's largest brokerage, has begun laying off up to 500 investment bankers, traders and other staff to cut costs.

The dismissals come as Merrill and other major brokerages struggle against sharply lower trading and underwriting revenues in the wake of the bond market's worst year in a generation.

Merrill had previously said it would lay off 180 employees in its debt and equity division. But a source familiar with the situation said yesterday these dismissals were only the first in a series of 400 to 500 layoffs planned this month.

Human Genome amends pact

Human Genome Sciences Inc. said yesterday that it amended its collaboration agreement with SmithKline Beecham PLC to allow for increased flexibility in the use of Human Genome's gene-sequencing capacity for projects of mutual interest.

Under the amendment referred to as Milestone III, SmithKline will pay Human Genome $25 million on Jan. 9 next year if the latter has delivered a specified number of partial gene sequences.

At the time of the payment, Human Genome will sell 339,065 common shares to SmithKline at a price that's 125 percent of the average market price of Human Genome common shares for the five days preceding the payment.

Ford seeks help on Jaguar

Ford Motor Co. wants up to $160 million in assistance from the British government for its Jaguar subsidiary -- and says if it doesn't get the money, it may build a new model elsewhere.

This would be the first time a Jaguar was made outside of England. The company would prefer to keep making all its luxury cars, including its new smaller car, in Coventry, but "obviously state funding is a major factor," Jaguar said yesterday.

Jaguar has been a net money-loser since Ford bought it in 1989 for $2.5 billion. Ford Chairman Alex Trotman has said he could build Jaguars at the company's U.S. assembly plants "just fine."

Eisner gets $7.3 million bonus

Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael D. Eisner -- denied a bonus last year because of losses at the Euro Disney theme park -- earned a $7.3 million bonus during the company's 1994 fiscal year, reflecting Disney's improved finances.

Mr. Eisner's bonus brought his total compensation to about $10.7 million, which will likely keep him among the nation's top-paid executives.

PNC to take $110 million charge

PNC Bank Corp. said rising interest rates and branch closings will force it to take charges of $110 million, sharply reducing fourth-quarter profits. The Pittsburgh-based banking company also said it plans to repurchase up to 24 million shares, or about 10 percent of its stock outstanding, during the next two years.


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