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Allianz, the international insurance giant, will pay $21 billion for the 80 percent of Dresdner Bank that it does not already own, the companies announced Sunday. The combined company automatically becomes the financial services industry's fourth-largest, behind Citigroup and American International Group of the US and Britain's HSBC Holdings.

FPL Group Inc. and Entergy Corp. abandoned a $7.6 billion merger agreement signed last July that would have created the No. 1 US power-distribution company. Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL owns electricity operations from Maine to California. Its subsidiary, Florida Power & Light, generates electricity for about 2.3 million customers. Entergy Corp., based in New Orleans, is a utility holding company with subsidiaries that distribute electricity to 2.5 million customers in the South. FPL cited regulatory restrictions and "disagreements on how to manage the companies" as reasons for the canceled deal.

Because of its "worst year in history," the hotel and airline conglomerate SAirGroup asked that trading of its shares be suspended and said it would put its profitable Swissotel chain up for sale, among other "urgent" measures. The Zurich-based holding company, which also operates Swissair, reported a net loss for last year of $1.7 billion. In 1999, SAirGroup made a profit of $165 million. But it is on its third chief executive officer since mid-January, its board resigned last month, and its chief of airline operations quit March 7 after only six weeks on the job.

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Chemical giant DuPont will cut 4,000 jobs and eliminate about 1,300 contract personnel, the company announced. Among other measures, less-competitive plants will be closed in response to slowing demand for apparel and textiles and the company's Lycra business will cut jobs at US and European facilities.

W.R. Grace & Co. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection because of a rising number of asbestos-related injury claims, the speciality-chemicals maker said. The company, based in Columbia, Md., will continue to operate while it develops a plan to address the claims.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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