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Details are expected to be announced tomorrow of a new joint asset-management venture between the second-largest US life-insurance carrier and a major Japanese company. Early indications were that subsidiaries of MetLife and Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Co. would hold equal shares in the venture, which would begin functioning in June. MetLife lists assets of $172.4 billion; Asahi $101.5 billion. Since last July, Prudential, Kemper, and the PaineWebber Group have set up similar ventures with Japanese insurers.

An expected order for US-made fighter jets to modernize Israel's Air Force has been upped from $2.5 billion to $4 billion and probably will be awarded this summer, a Lockheed Martin executive said. Lockheed and Boeing began bidding against each other in 1997 for the prize - originally 30 planes. But with the unit cost dropping for a larger order, Israel recently said it wanted to discuss as many as 110 planes. Payment would come from the $1.8 billion Israel receives in annual military aid from the US.

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