Weyerhaeuser Co., in a new unsolicited effort to acquire forest products rival Willamette Industries, upped its bid to $5.4 billion - or $48 a share - and offered it directly to stockholders. The latter urged the stockholders to take no action until its directors could study the proposal and issue a recommendation. Earlier, Weyerhaeuser offered $36 and then $43 per share. Analysts speculated that investor pressure eventually would compel Willamette to accept a buyout, but perhaps not until Weyerhaeuser's offer reached as high as $52 a share.
BFGoodrich announced it will sell its performance materials business, which specializes in plastics and polymers, to an investor group for $1.4 billion. A spokesman said the move would solidify the transformation from a manufacturer of chemical and tires to an aerospace and industrial products company. The buyers' group is led by AEA Investors Inc., a private equity firm with offices in New York and London. BFGoodrich is based in Charlotte, N.C.
In new signs that the US economy is slowing, three more companies announced layoffs:
* About 850 employees, or 35 percent of the workforce, at iXL Enterprises Inc. will be eliminated, the Web consulting company said. The move is part of a reorganization that already resulted in 350 layoffs in September. The company is based in Atlanta.
* ReplayTV, a pioneer in making personal video recorders, will cut about 120 jobs out of 260 as it moves away from selling its own set-top boxes to consumers. The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm said it will focus instead on licensing its technology.
* Icebox.com, an Internet entertainment producer, will eliminate 50 of its 100 full-time staff. The Los Angeles-based company was conceived as a place free of corporate creative constraints, but the demands of investors now are taking hold, an executive said.
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