Business & Finance

Prudential Insurance Co. of America hoped to raise more than $3 billion as its first sale of shares opened on the New York Stock Exchange. If that goal is reached, it would be the year's third-largest initial public offering, behind Kraft Foods' $8.7 billion and the $3.6 billion raised by Lucent Technologies spinoff Agere Systems Inc. The move is the final stage in Prudential's conversion to a publicly traded company, a decision announced in 1998. Next week, its name is to change to Prudential Financial Inc.

Enron has shown creditors a plan to sell assets worth as much as $6 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. Citing a senior executive, the newspaper said the plan calls for a reorganization around core operations to try to emerge from bankruptcy within a year. Those operations include energy exploration and production, pipelines, gas storage, and electricity generation, the Journal said.

Vivendi Universal, the giant media conglomerate, put its 8 percent stake in Britain's BSkyB satellite TV operations, worth $1.5 billion, up for sale. The move heightened speculation that Vivendi is on the verge of acquiring the production and distribution assets of USA Networks. The two companies have confirmed that they are in discussions, and last week Vivendi raised another $1.2 billion it might use for such a deal from the sale of about 10 percent of its water and waste-treatment subsidiary.

In a new flurry of corporate layoff news:

• Citing a drop in policyholders and its withdrawal from certain Medicare and health-maintenance-organization markets, the insurance giant Aetna said it will cut 6,000 jobs, or 16 percent of its workforce.

• Applied Materials Inc., the world's largest supplier of equipment to make semiconductors, will lay off 1,700 employees. The company is based in Santa Clara, Calif.

• Showa Denko, a major producer of aluminum, electronics, and chemicals, announced 1,000 more layoffs. The Tokyo-based company cut 4,000 jobs earlier this year.

• McGraw-Hill, whose operations include textbook publishing, Business Week magazine, and the Standard & Poor's credit-rating service, said it will cut 925 jobs.

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