News In Brief

A routine investigation was opened by the Chicago Board of Trade into "unusual trading activity" involving Litton Industries options just prior to the surprise announcement late last week that the company was being acquired for $3.8 billion by aircraft giant Northrop Grumman Corp. The deal, which also involves the assumption of $1.3 billion in Litton debt, still had professionals in the aerospace and stock-trading industries buzzing over the weekend because neither leaks nor rumors circulated beforehand. Reports said the volume of Litton options rose from an average of 58 contracts a day to 983 on Dec. 18, three days before the merger was announced. Litton, which is best known for its shipbuilding division, is based in Woodland Hills, Calif. Northrop Grumman, the US's fifth-largest defense contractor, is based in Los Angeles.

Cinergy Corp. agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement with the Justice Department over a dispute involving pollution from 10 coal-fired power plants in Ohio and Indiana. The deal, called by Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner "the largest ever taken" under the federal Clean Air Act, calls for the Cincinnati-based utility to install new emissions-control equipment, to invest $21.5 million in "environmentally beneficial projects" over the next five years, and to pay an $8.5 million fine.

Outboard Marine Inc., a world leader in the manufacture of pleasure boats and motors, filed for federal bankruptcy protection after announcing plans to shut down indefinitely for restructuring. The move involves the layoffs of 1,190 workers. The company markets its products under such names as Chris-Craft, Johnson, and Evinrude. Its headquarters are in Waukegan, Ill.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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