A $4.6 billion merger that will result in the world's largest
steel company was announced in Paris. The deal, in which France's Usinor is to acquire Spain's Aceralia and Luxembourg's Arbed SA, puts the Europeans far ahead of current leader Nippon Steel of Japan in production capacity: 46 million tons a year to 28.1 million. The three companies currently employ 110,000 workers. The combined entity will be named NewCo and will be based in Luxembourg.
Unilever, the international consumer products giant, announced the sale of its Bestfoods Baking Co. unit, the maker of Arnold bread, Thomas' English muffins, and Entenmann's products, to Toronto-based rival George Weston Ltd., for $1.76 billion. The move gives Weston a larger foothold in the US market, where it already makes Girl Scout cookies. Bestfoods Baking is based in Bay Shore, N.Y.
In layoff news:
*Three key unions have accepted terms of a $675 million rescue plan to keep Sabena, Belgium's national airline, operating in the face of major operating losses. The plan calls for up to 700 jobs to be cut, along with unprofitable routes. It now goes to coowners SAirGroup and the Belgian government, which are to decide Friday whether to endorse it or dissolve the company.
*Nortel Networks, the Canadian rival of telecommunications equipment makers Motorola and Lucent Technologies upped the number of jobs it will eliminate this year to 10,000. Nortel announced 4,000 layoffs last month.
*Dell Computer cut 1,700 jobs late last week, the first such move in its 16-year history.
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