Agilent layoffs are under way

Add Agilent Technologies to the list of companies sending out layoff notices. The company is in the midst of trimming 125 workers from its Washington state payroll, said Liz Cox, the company’s Spokane-based community relations manager. Almost all of the cuts are coming at Agilent’s Spokane operation, which employees 1,200 people, she said. Some among the 250 workers at the company’s Lake Stevens plant will also lose their positions. The cuts are not related to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The company announced in August that it planned to cut 4,000 workers worldwide in response to slumping earnings.

Long-distance giant AT&T Corp. is talking to BellSouth Corp. about a possible merger, a move that could reunite it with one of the Baby Bells it was forced to spin off back in 1984, a source close to the negotiations said Thursday. Any such deal would take place only after AT&T sells its cable business, AT&T Broadband, and involve only its consumer and business telecom divisions, sources said.

Energy supplier Reliant Resources Inc. is buying Orion Power Holdings Inc., an East Coast electric power generating company, for $2.9 billion in cash. Officials said the deal announced Thursday would enable Reliant, which is controlled by Houston-based Reliant Energy Inc., to grow more quickly and get a foothold in the New York market. In the deal, Reliant Resources will acquire all of Orion Power’s outstanding shares for $26.80 per share in cash. Reliant’s stock fell on the news and Orion’s rose more than $5 a share.

The Nasdaq Stock Market has temporarily suspended certain trading requirements to help companies remain listed on the exchange and to ease the economic turmoil following this month’s terrorist attacks. The stock market, which lists more than 4,300 companies, said Thursday that the moratorium is effective until Jan. 2. The move exempts companies from meeting minimum share price and public float requirements to stay listed on the exchange. Float refers to the number of available shares.

Nissan Motor Co. will move its Maxima production line from Japan to Tennessee, part of an expansion that will create 2,000 new jobs in the state. A redesigned model of the Maxima, Nissan’s top-of-the-line car, is set to roll off the assembly line in January 2003, the company announced Thursday. The move is part of the company’s strategy to produce cars close to the markets were they are sold, said Emil Hassan, Nissan’s senior vice president of North American manufacturing.

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