News In Brief

The $17.6 billion sale of the world's No. 1 marketer of diamonds, De Beers, to a consortium that plans to take it private again appeared all but certain. The Financial Times and other news outlets reported that the South African company had agreed to be acquired by a group that includes London-based minerals- and forest-products giant Anglo American PLC, Central Holdings Ltd. (CHL), and Debswana Diamond Co. Anglo American already owns 32 percent of De Beers. CHL is a holding company for the interests of the Oppenheimer family, which has long operated De Beers. Debswana is jointly owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana.

Xerox Corp. quickly issued a disclaimer after one of its senior executives told an interviewer that planned layoffs would total "around 10,000" for this year, or 11 percent of the workforce. A spokeswoman for the Stamford, Conn., copier company called that figure "speculative" and "premature." Xerox cut 2,000 jobs last year and said last month it would eliminate another 4,000 in the first quarter - with still more to come later in a restructuring effort.

Sun Life Financial Services joined the list of companies announcing major job cuts in Britain, indicating it will close its sales operation there by the end of 2003. The layoffs - 1,700 - represent 85 percent of the company's workforce in the United Kingdom. Sun Life is based in Toronto. In recent days, Prudential PLC and Corus Group (formerly British Steel) said they'd cut more than 7,000 jobs.

A $2.4 billion stock buyback and a 40-to-1 split were announced by pharmaceutical giant NovartisAG. The Basle, Switzerland-based company reported better-than-expected results for 2000, and said it had no need to hoard cash.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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