Business & Finance

A request to block the sale of Hershey Foods will be considered today by a state court in Pennsylvania, as opposition to the proposed move mounts in the chocolate-maker's home turf. Meanwhile, Nestlé and Cadbury- Schweppes held informal discussions on making a joint offer, published reports in Britain said. Nestlé's chief executive expressed concern last week that the Swiss food giant might run afoul of US antitrust rules if it acquired Hershey on its own.

A potentially hostile multibillion-dollar takeover fight may be looming between Vodafone Group, the world's largest cellphone operator, and media giant Vivendi, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper said British-owned Vodafone is preparing to offer $12 billion in cash for majority control of French rival SFR, which Vivendi has indicated it would like to keep even while selling off other prime assets to reduce its massive debt. France is the only sizable European market in which Vodafone lacks a majority stake in its far-flung cellphone operations.

Toyota and rival Nissan said they'll join forces to develop and build parts for hybrid gas-electric cars that will be targeted mostly for the US market. The 10-year alliance is believed to be the first between the fierce Japanese competitors. Toyota has offered hybrids since 1997, but only about 120,000 have sold worldwide. Nissan stopped selling its hybrid two years ago but has continued investing in the technology despite its high cost.

The Labor Day holiday kicked off a pivotal week in contract negotiations in the transport industry. Boeing Co. machinists were working without a contract Monday, after the union that represents them agreed to hold a second vote on the aircraft manufacturer's "best and final" offer. The union nullified the first round at the request of a federal mediator. The possibility of a strike or work slowdown – which, in turn, could trigger a lockout – also grew at 29 West Coast seaports after talks between shipping lines and 10,500 dockworkers broke down Sunday. The longshoremen's union contract expired July 1.

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