Business & Finance

Alltel announced a $6.1 billion hostile takeover bid, its third so far, for smaller telecommunications rival CenturyTel Inc. of Monroe, La. But the latter said it was rejecting the offer, as it did the previous two, because "the company is not for sale." CenturyTel provides phone service to rural areas, suburbs, and small towns in 21 states. It also offers cable TV, long-distance, and Internet access. Little Rock, Ark.-based Alltel is the US's sixth-largest wireless carrier and has customers in 24 states and 55 foreign countries.

Plans to increase its staff in the US by 10 percent were dropped by Novartis, one of the world's largest makers of pharmaceuticals, the Financial Times reported. Citing company sources, the newspaper said Novartis has been set back by delays in the development of two drugs and the rejection of a third by federal regulators. The company is based in Basel, Switzerland.

In layoff developments:

In a bid to save $1.8 billion and return to profitability in the next two years, General Motors will cut thousands of jobs at its Opel and Vauxhall assembly plants in Europe, reports said. Details of the move are to be finalized late next month, a company executive told journalists in Berlin.

• Another 1,000 jobs will be cut as Swiss specialty chemicals giant Clariant closes 10 plants by year's end, reports said. The Basel-based company has been hit hard by the withholding of regulatory approval of three new drugs and by the effects of the so-called "mad cow" and foot-and-mouth diseases on its leather-treatment products. Clariant laid off 800 workers in March.

• US Steel said it will close its Fairless Hills, Pa., cold-rolling and tin-mill operations by November. About 600 workers will lose their jobs.

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