News In Brief

Offshore drilling contractor Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. said it acquired rival R&B Falcon Corp. in a $5.8 billion stock deal, which would combine the Houston-based firms into the world's largest offshore drilling contractor and No. 3 oil services company. Transocean agreed to assume approximately $3 billion in R&B debt.

The largest US savings and loan company, Washington Mutual, has agreed to buy Texas thrift Bank United Corp. in a $1.5 billion stock deal, The Wall Street Journal reported. The acquisition, approved by both companies' boards, is expected to boost cash earnings immediately and add to reported earnings per share by 2002. Up to 600 jobs may be cut in the deal, CNN reported.

Fresh from committing $7.36 billion for licenses to operate next-generation mobile phones in Germany, Mannesmann AG announced it would shell out another $4.6 billion for infrastructure. The company, a subsidiary of Vodafone AirTouch PLC, said it aims to maintain its No. 1 position in Germany's mobile telecommunications market by laying out a new network that can handle the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System standard. Expected to hit the market sometime between 2001 and 2003, the UMTS standard has a transmission speed almost 40 times the existing norm, allowing mobile phones to be used more like computers.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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