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In its second major deal in two days, Vodafone, the British cellular-phone giant, said it would pay $4.1 billion for the mobile-phone business of Eircom PLC, the former state-owned telecommunications monopoly in the Republic of Ireland. With a base of more than 1 million customers, the Eircell unit controls about 60 percent of Ireland's mobile-phone market. On Wednesday, Vodafone bought a 15 percent stake in Japan Telecom for a reported $2.2 billion.

Six weeks after agreeing to be acquired by Amerada Hess, the eighth-largest US oil company, Britain's Lasmo PLC announced it was selling instead to Eni, the Italian energy conglomerate. The deal was valued at just under $4 billion, or about $500 million more than Amerada Hess had offered. Analysts said it indicated an effort by Eni, which is 36 percent owned by the Italian government, to play catch-up with a group of "supermajors" in the oil industry resulting from recent mergers. Lasmo's largest operations are in the North Sea and Indonesia, but it also has holdings in Algeria, Libya, and Pakistan, and promising new reserves in Venezuela.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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