ng is to write off $8bn for the final three months of last year, to make up for the precipitous drop in the value of some of its assets.

The write-offs represent goodwill the part of the cost of an acquisition which is over and above the value of its real-world assets.

Like many telecoms and technology companies, Global Crossing which built a business laying huge-capacity fibre-optic cables around the world went on an acquisition spree to extend its operations.

GREEK BANKER EYES EUROPEAN JOB

When EU finance ministers meet in Oviedo this weekend to decide on a replacement for Christian Noyer as vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB), the clear favourite will be the Greek candidate Lucas Papademos.

It may come as a surprise to many that a country whose economy was seen as the sick man of Europe as recently as the late 1980s, has become a breeding ground for leaders of Europe's key institutions.

Mr Papademos has been described by German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as a "candidate of the highest rank and excellently qualified."

EUROPE APPROVES RECYCLING LAW

Electrical goods manufacturers will have to pay for the recycling of their products, after the European Parliament voted in favour of the scheme on Wednesday.

MEPs voted in favour of a series of measures, which are aimed at stopping electrical goods from fridge freezers, computers and toasters to mobile phones ending up in landfill sites and incinerators.

The changes would need to be incorporated across the European Union by 2005. Only 10% of electrical goods are currently recycled in the EU.

Up to 10,000 manufacturers in Europe could be affected by the move, and it is expected to cost the manufacturing industry up to 1bn a year, with an additional one-off cost of up to 5bn to deal with the existing backlog of waste equipment.

TURKEY MUST TURN REFORMS TO GROWTH, IMF SAYS

Turkey is making progress reforming its economy, but must convert the gains into economic growth, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

The IMF's local representative Odd Per Brekk praised Turkey for its progress in cutting interest rates and inflation this year and for maintaining a good balance of payments performance.

"Macroeconomic and financial stability is the first prerequisite for growth," he said.

But, he added, "looking ahead, this achievement needs to be completed by a return to positive economic growth".

SOUTH AFRICA TARGETS BUDGET TOURISTS

South Africa has traditionally been seen as an expensive holiday destination but a new strategy will see the country promoting itself to those with lower budgets.

The South African Tourism organisation is working to ensure facilities are provided for the targeted tourists, who currently choose rival long-haul destinations.

It has enlisted the support of South Africa Airways, car hire companies and hotel chains.