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News In Brief

By Robert Kilborn and Judy Nichols / January 13, 2000



The owner of the Dannon yogurt and Evian bottled-water brands, French food producer Group Danone, has agreed to buy McKesson Water Products Co. for $1.1 billion in cash, the companies announced in San Francisco and Paris. Pasadena, Calif.-based McKesson is the US's third-largest distributor of bottled waters and a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant McKesson HBOC Inc. The company markets its Crystal, Sparkletts, and Alhambra water brands in 30 states. The deal is expected to more than double Danone's share of the US market, from 7.8 percent to 16.7 percent.

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The ongoing slide that has dropped the value of the Russian rouble likely will continue until it stabilizes "somewhere between 28 and 29" to the US dollar, senior officials said in Moscow. The ruble, watched intently by analysts and ordinary Russians as the strongest barometer of the nation's economic health, opened the week at 27.4 against the dollar. It ended Monday's trading at 27.7, Tuesday's at 28.5, and yesterday's at 28.8. The central bank insisted the decline was seasonal and technical and not worrisome enough to warrant its intervention. The ruble began the year at 27.4 against the dollar. It stood at 7.2 before being devalued by the government amid the near-collapse of the Russian economy in late August 1998.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society