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The Coca-Cola Co. plans to eliminate 6,000 jobs, its largest employment cutback ever, as part of a major restructuring at the world's largest soft drink maker.

The cuts announced today will affect 2,500 jobs at the company's Atlanta headquarters, 2,700 overseas, and 800 jobs around the United States.

Coke estimated that the cuts will save $300 million. It will take an $800 million charge before taxes this year to cover costs of the realignment. Laid-off workers will be offered severance packages, outplacement and counseling, Coke said.

It is the latest move by the Atlanta-based beverage company to improve its profitability since president Douglas Daft was designated to become chairman and CEO after its April shareholders' meeting.

Daft, who will succeed M. Douglas Ivester in the company's top posts, called the job reductions "painful both for those within the company who will be directly affected and for those responsible for making this decision."

Profit up 87% at American Axle

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc., which has operations in Buffalo, today said fourth-quarter profit rose a better-than-forecast 87 percent as it benefited from record U.S. car sales.

Net income rose to $27.5 million, or 56 cents a share, from $14.7 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier. The company was expected to earn 49 cents, the average estimate of seven analysts in a First Call/Thomson Financial poll. Sales rose 17 percent to $735.8 million from $629.6 million.

GM accounted for about 84 percent of Detroit-based American Axle's fourth-quarter sales, down from about 85 percent the previous quarter and 93 percent for all of 1998.

"They're continuing to win additional non-GM business, which adds to their product content on popular passenger trucks," said Richard Hilgert, an analyst at Fahnestock & Co. in Detroit, who rates the company a "strong buy."

Hearst sweetens Examiner offer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Antitrust concerns from local, state and federal officials prompted Hearst Corp. to sweeten the deal for potential buyers of the San Francisco Examiner, the newspaper's publisher said.

Hearst is adding trucks, printing presses and other assets, along with the newspaper's name and subscriber list, Examiner publisher Timothy O. White said Tuesday.

In August, Hearst said it planned to buy its longtime rival, the morning San Francisco Chronicle, reportedly for $660 million, and sell the Examiner. Terms of the deal, however, included only the Examiner's name and goodwill, not any physical assets needed to put out a paper. If no qualified buyer were found, Hearst said it would merge the two newspapers. White said the original offer attracted no buyers.

Existing home sales hit record in '99

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes soared 4.6 percent in 1999 to a record 5.197 million as Americans feeling prosperous and with money to spend snapped up homes despite rising mortgage rates.

Sales surpassed the previous record of 4.97 million set in 1998, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday.

In December, however, sales fell 1.4 percent from the month before to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.06 million units.

Economists read the December decline as a sign that rising mortgage rates have begun to dampen demand.

Amherst tech firm raises $1.4 million
An Amherst company has raised $1.4 million to launch its business of providing computer services to businesses over the Internet.

The Tech Shop, at 4242 Ridge Lea Road, raised the money from private investors in the United States and Europe, the company said. The funds come in addition to a $200,000 loan from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency.

The 26-person company aims to be a national and international player as an "application service provider," an out-source provider of corporate computing functions.

Using high-speed Internet connections, application service providers can run software for client companies, host their Web sites and perform other computer-related services.

Launched in 1992 as a computer hardware provider, the company is aiming at the small- to mid-sized business market, marketing director Linda Patricia said.

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