With Ford Motor Co. pulling its $6.9 billion offer for deeply indebted South Korean automaker Daewoo off the table, creditors reopened the bidding process and said they expected to choose a winner next month. Ford said the purchase of Daewoo would not be in the best interest of either company. Its move leaves two consortia, General Motors/Fiat and DaimlerChrysler/Hyundai, as the remaining bidders. But neither was indicating any interest in raising its offers. Daewoo's collapse last year under $70 billion in unpaid bills ranks as one of history's largest business failures.
In a flurry of sizable transactions:
*New York-based - and privately held - investment bank Wasserstein Perella agreed to be acquired by Germany's Dresdner Bank AG. The all-stock deal was valued at $1.36 billion.
* The Snapple brand of teas, fruit drinks, and juices was sold to Britain's Cadbury Schweppes PLC for an estimated $1.45 billion in cash and debt-assumption. The move strengthens Cadbury Schweppes's presence in the US, where it ranks third in soft-beverage sales behind PepsiCo Inc. and Coca-Cola Inc., neither of which is a leader in noncarbonated drinks.
*Merger plans were announced by three of Japan's larger insurance carriers, creating an alliance with assets of $177 billion. Tokio Fire & Marine, Asahi Mutual Life, and Nichido Fire & Marine, however, still will be dwarfed by Japan's largest insurer, Nippon Life, whose assets are almost 2-1/2 times as great.
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