Business & Finance

Pharmacia Corp. said it has agreed to sell its share in Amersham Biosciences, a joint venture with Britain's Amersham PLC, to its partner. The deal is worth $1 billion. Amersham Biosciences, based in Piscataway, N.J., makes equipment used in decoding genes. Pharmacia's headquarters are in nearby Peapack, N.J.

Shareholders of Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum were voting in separate meetings on the proposed $15.6 billion merger of the companies as the Monitor went to press, and analysts expected approval in both cases. The combined entity would become the US's third-largest oil company, behind Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco. The merger still requires the OK of federal regulators.

Accounting giant Ernst & Young has joined the bidding for its troubled rival Arthur Andersen LLP, according to the Financial Times. The newspaper, which reported Monday that Andersen also was in merger discussions with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, said a deal was likely to be announced within days. Any buyout would reduce the number of auditing firms with global reach to four, which the Times said already has aroused concern among competition regulators.

Bankrupt Kmart accepted the resignation of its chief executive, Charles Conaway, replacing him immediately with a specialist in turning around the fortunes of troubled companies. Conaway, who held the post less than two years, already had yielded his duties as chairman to successor James Adamson before Kmart filed for protection from its creditors last month. Adamson previously led both a restaurant company and the Revco drugstore chain through reorganizations.

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