Business & Finance

Canada's Alcan Inc., the world's No. 2 aluminum producer, launched a $3.8 billion hostile takeover bid for French rival Pechiney SA. The latter voiced surprise at the cash and stock offer, saying it could have "negative implications," and questioning whether European Union regulators would permit a merger, having blocked an earlier proposal in 2000.

About 450 banks are being sued by creditors of Adelphia Communications Corp. over billions in loans to the cable company and to its founding Rigas family, published reports said. The suit, filed Sunday by Adelphia's unsecured creditors in US bankruptcy court in New York, seeks $5 billion in damages and asks that $5.2 billion in company debt be frozen until they are paid. The suit is one of the largest ever brought by a group of creditors against lenders. Adelphia is based in Coudersport, Pa.

Prosecutors raided the headquarters of Royal Ahold NV in Zaandam, the Netherlands, over the weekend, the troubled international food retailer said, pledging "full cooperation" with the criminal inquiry. A spokesman for the public-prosecutor's office said it concerns Ahold's plans to consolidate joint ventures in Scandinavia and Latin America, not the massive accounting irregularities at its US Foodservice unit that Ahold first disclosed in February.

The world's top maker of jeans, VF Corp., is close to a deal to buy Nautica Enterprises Inc. for about $580 million, The Wall Street Journal reported, with an announcement said to be imminent. The transaction would accelerate the consolidation trend among apparel companies, which have been looking to offset both a stubborn downturn in sales and an oversupply of well-made clothing, the newspaper said.

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