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Norwegian Cruise Line rejected a $1.7 billion takeover offer from rival Carnival Corp., but the latter said it is "prepared to take it to the next level." Norwegian called the bid, Carnival's second since 1995, "inadequate." Miami-based Carnival leads the cruise-ship industry, with about 35 percent of the market. Norwegian ranks fourth, at about 10 percent.

The agribusiness units of biotech giants Novartis and AstraZenica will be merged, forming a company that will rank No. 1 in the world in pesticides and third in the supply of crop seed, they announced in Zurich, Switzerland. The new unit will be renamed Syngenta. The merger will result in 3,000 layoffs, or 12.5 percent of their combined work forces, the announcement said. Last year the agri-business sales of the two companies totaled $7.9 billion.

The $2.3 billion rescue plan negotiated last week for the No. 2 construction company in Germany, Philipp Holzmann AG, will be fought in court because it calls for both wage reductions and unpaid overtime, union leaders warned. Before the plan, mediated by Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, the company filed for protection from its creditors, citing inability to meet heavy debts run up by a former management team.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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