The number of Japanese corporate failures dropped 13.3 percent from a year earlier to 8,984 cases in the six months to last month, falling below 9,000 in the period for the first time in four years, a research firm said yesterday. The drop was a result of corporate efforts to avert bankruptcy as more companies were restructuring and following risk-averse business strate-gies, Teikoku Databank
said in a statement. "Com-panies are implementing restructuring measures to improve their financial management and profita-bility in a bid to avert bankruptcy and the number of business failures as a result of the economic slump is falling," it said.
■ News Corp
Offer made for Hughes unit
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp will make an offer for about 20 percent of Hughes Software Systems Ltd, an Indian unit of Hughes Electronics Corp. News Corp will pay 232 rupees (US$5) a share to acquire as many as 6.7 million shares, representing 20 percent of Hughes Software's equity, it said in a statement to the Mumbai stock exchange. India-based Hughes Soft-ware develops computer code for the telecommuni-cations industry. The offer is part of News Corp's April agreement with General Motors Corp to buy a controlling 34 percent stake in Hughes Electronics Corp for US$6.6 billion. The acquisition will give News Corp control of DirectTV, the largest US satellite-TV service with 11 million subscribers.
Continental seeks delay
Continental Airlines Inc, the No. 5 US carrier, will postpone delivery of most of its US$2.5 billion airplane order from Boeing Co, the world's biggest planemaker, until at least 2008, the Wall Street Journal said yester-day, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation. Continental agreed with Boeing to defer delivery of 36 of the 56 737s on order until 2008 or later and is still trying to nego-tiate postponing all 11 757-300s, which may jeopardize Boeing's 757 production line, the paper said. The delay is necessary because Continental has decided to shrink its capacity further next year, the paper said.
Reuters sues Bloomberg
Financial news and data provider Reuters Group PLC claims in a lawsuit that Bloomberg LP, its main rival, violated three of its patents on trading techno-logy. The federal lawsuit, filed late Friday in Man-hattan, asks the court to order Bloomberg to stop using the technology. It also seeks unspecified damages. The technology allows Reuters customers to trade securities based on market data provided by the ser-vice. Bloomberg called the suit "without merit." "We are confident we have not infringed on any patents," Bloomberg spokeswoman Chris Taylor said Sunday. The trading technology generated US$88.4 million for Reuters last year, said Simon Walker, a London-based spokesman. He said the Reuters patents expire in 2016.
■ Office supplies
Boise Cascade Corp agreed to pay US$1.15 billion to buy OfficeMax Inc, the third-biggest US office-supply retailer. Share-holders in OfficeMax, will receive US$9 a share in cash and stock, the company said. The cash element will be between 30 percent and 45 percent, depending on Boise's stock price.