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The world's largest media and Internet group, AOL Time Warner, was expected to announce yesterday that it will pay cash to buy out Bertelsmann's $6.75 billion stake in AOL Europe, sources close to the company said. Investors and analysts were to be informed of the company's decision during a conference call. Bertelsmann recently exercised an option to sell its stake in AOL Europe, a deal in which AOL Time Warner would have to pay $2.5 billion in cash and could choose whether to pay the remainder in cash or shares. The American company has reportedly decided it can comfortably absorb a cash payment which it will pay in two tranches: $5.25 billion in January and $1.5 billion in July.

Ford Motor Co. will give the green light this week to a

restructuring plan expected to cost as many as 20,000 jobs, the Financial Times reported yesterday. The plan, which also could include plant closures and significant capacity cutbacks, will be unveiled Friday after a meeting of the company's board of directors, the newspaper said. Ford reportedly is seeking savings of $3 billion to $5 billion in an effort to rebuild profitability and stay competitive with foreign automakers.

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German drug and chemical giant Bayer AG is conducting partnership talks for a number of its healthcare operations and negotiations are "well advanced" in one case, the company's chief executive officer told a German newspaper. Bayer last month pledged an overhaul to shore up earnings after patient deaths forced it in August to withdraw a lucrative anticholesterol treatment, Baycol.

Motorola Semiconductor will lay off about half of the 1,500 workers at its Hong Kong factory by the year's end, shifting their jobs to plants in Malaysia and China. The cuts are part of a restructuring plan that will refocus the Hong Kong operation mainly on research and development, a company official said.

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