Business & Finance

The hostile takeover battle between forest products giants

Weyerhaeuser and Willamette Industries took a major new turn when the latter acknowledged it's negotiating to buy part of another competitor, Georgia-Pacific Corp. Analysts said the effort is Willamette's most vigorous so far to avoid being acquired for $5.5 billion by Weyerhaeuser. For its part, Weyerhaeuser has vowed to try "all remedies available" to keep Willamette from growing via buyouts of other companies. Georgia-Pacific, saddled with a debt of $12 billion and potentially liable to asbestos-related lawsuits, is seeking to sell its slow-growing building-products division to concentrate on its core businesses: paper and packaging materials. Weyerhaeuser is based in Federal Way, Wash., Willamette in Portland, Ore., and Georgia-Pacific in Atlanta.

Parts suppliers forced the shutdown of all assembly plants

of South Korea's deeply troubled Daewoo Motor Co. by demanding full payment for past deliveries - an estimated $1.17 billion. It was not immediately clear how the move would affect the nonbinding agreement by General Motors of the US to buy Daewoo. The company, which went bankrupt 13 months ago, is roughly $17 billion in debt.

In another round of layoff developments:

• A new restructuring plan aimed at more than halving its $7 billion debt will result in 6,000 job cuts, the Italian automaker Fiat announced. All are expected to come at plants outside Italy.

• Kroger Co., the US's largest supermarket chain, said it will cut 1,500 jobs. The Cincinnati-based company operates more than 3,000 grocery and convenience stores under its own name, Ralph's, Smith's, Fred Meyer, Quality Food Center, Quik Stop, and Kwik Shop.

• Delphi Automotive Systems, the No. 1 supplier of auto parts in the US, upped the number of layoffs it says will be necessary by 1,400 and signed a letter of intent to sell its generator business to rival Delco Remy.

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