Business & Finance

The futures of the world's three largest cruise ship operators hung in the balance as stockholders of P&O Princess gathered in London to decide whether to accept a proposed $7 billion merger with Royal Caribbean. But company directors immediately confronted a motion to adjourn, allowing more time to consider a competing hostile takeover bid by industry leader Carnival Corp. The Financial Times reported a warning by Royal Caribbean's chairman that adjournment of the meeting "would strike at the heart of our transaction." Meanwhile, analysts said there were dangers that ultimate acceptance by P&O Princess shareholders of the Carnival offer would fail to win regulatory approval, leaving them "nowhere."

In a deal valued at $1.7 billion, the largest brewing company in Britain said it will acquire its counterpart in Finland. Scottish & Newcastle Plc. also operates more than 1,000 pubs. By buying Helsinki-based Oyj Hartwall, it will extend its reach into the Scandinavian market and Russia.

Nissan Motor Co. said the 21,000 workers whose jobs were cut in a drastic restructuring program have "very strong qualifications" and some of them would be rehired as it adds staff again beginning in April. The Japanese automaker is preparing to launch 12 new models in the new fiscal year.

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