Business & Finance

A three-way merger to make the world's largest steelmaker was clinched when France's Usinor, Luxembourg's Arbed, and Spain's Aceralia resolved a last-minute glitch over the division of shares in the combined company. The new company, whose formation depends on approval by the three boards and the European Union, will have an annual revenue of $30 billion and capacity to produce 46 million metric tons of crude steel annually.

Johnson Wax Professional acquired DiverseyLever, the industrial cleaning arm of Unilever, in a deal worth $1.6 billion, the companies said. The new entity will be based in Racine, Wis. It will combine Johnson Wax's strengths in housecleaning and floor care with Unilever's hold on industrial dishwashing, laundry, food processing, and sanitation, Johnson Wax executives said.

WellPoint Health Networks will buy Maryland-based CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield for $1.3 billion in cash and stock. In October, Wellpoint announced a separate agreement to buy RightChoice Managed Care, the largest managed-care company in Missouri. With the approval of both deals, WellPoint will have revenues of $13 billion and serve 15.9 million members. CareFirst affiliates operate in Maryland, Delaware, and Washington. WellPoint serves 82,000 members in the mid-Atlantic region.

LTV Corp. asked a bankruptcy court for permission to halt its integrated steel operations and prepare to sell them. LTV is the US's No. 3 integrated steel maker and has a workforce of 17,000 and operations in 17 states, Canada, and the U.K. The plan to halt operations would affect its steel mills in Cleveland and Indiana Harbor in East Chicago. LTV, which had earlier filed for bankruptcy protection, also requested permission to reject labor agreements and take other actions to idle operations.

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