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Exclusive negotiations between US insurance giant Aetna and Dutch financial group ING ended when the parties were unable to agree on buyout terms "that would provide a satisfactory return" to the latter's shareholders. Aetna, which wants to unload its financial services and international businesses in order to concentrate on health insurance, said it now is holding discussions with other, unidentified potential buyers.

The largest life insurance and pension-fund group in South Africa, Old Mutual PLC said it is buying Boston-based United Asset Management Corp. for $1.46 billion. The deal also calls for Old Mutual to assume $769 million in debt.

Shares in eight companies - none of them regarded as especially glamorous - attracted subdued trading as the Nasdaq Stock Market made its long-awaited debut in Japan. Analysts attributed the moderate investor interest to a lack of high-profile listings on the mostly tech-studded market as well as to caution because of Japan's national election this weekend. Nasdaq Japan hopes to build to 70 listings by the end of the year and to more than 100 by next spring.

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