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Houghton Mifflin Co., one of the US's few remaining independent publishers of school textbooks, agreed to be bought for $1.7 billion by Vivendi, the French media conglomerate, the Boston-based company said. Approval of the deal by regulators would put three of the top four US educational publishers under foreign ownership. Late last month, Vivendi paid $372 million for online music distributor MP3 and bought back $1.1 billion in stock from the family of executive vice president Edgar Bronfman.

Internet provider PSINet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing liabilities that were almost double its assets. The filing covered Ashburn, Va.-based PSINet and 24 US subsidiaries. Four Canadian subsidiaries also filed for bankruptcy protection in Ontario., but those in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and a consulting business, Metamor, are not involved.

In layoff news:

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* French telecommunications giant Alcatel SA said it will close three US facilities and eliminate 900 jobs. The move covers a fiber-optic cable plant in Portland, Ore., and laboratories in Andover, Mass., and Milpitas, Calif. Last week, Lucent Technologies backed out of talks with Alcatel on a deal worth a reported $32 billion.

* Cummins Inc., the world's No. 1 producer of diesel engines over 50 horsepower, announced plans to cut at least 500 jobs by mid-2002 and halt development of a new engine line. The company is based in Columbus, Ind.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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