Business & Finance

General Motors and the United Auto Workers sign a new four-year contract Wednesday, after the union membership voted to ratify it Monday. The deal also covers parts supplier Delphi Corp., a former GM unit. GM was the last of the Big Three US automakers to reach a deal with the union. All allow for the closure or sale of auto plants.

Ford announced a $1.6 billion investment to build a plant and industrial park in Hermosillo, Mexico. By mid-2005, the site will produce Futura midsize sedans, a design that will be the basis for at least 10 new Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models in coming years, the automaker said.

A $1.6 billion takeover deal for one of the largest distributors of electricity in Denmark, Nesa, appeared to hinge on concerns that control of the power supply remain in domestic hands, reports said. The company sold a 79 percent ownership share Monday to Elsam, the No. 1 Danish electricity producer. The issue of control has become worrisome, the reports said, because of last month's brief but massive blackout across Scandinavia and because the current Danish government has made privatization of state-owned companies, especially in the utilities sector, a priority.

Carrier Corp. announced plans to lay off 1,200 workers and close two manufacturing plants in East Syracuse, N.Y., Monday. The operations are being transferred to Stone Mountain, Ga., China, and Singapore, the company said. Carrier, a subsidiary of United Technologies, is the world leader in heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration equipment, and is based in Farmington, Conn.

Oil giant ConocoPhillips agreed to sell its Circle K chain of convenience stores to retailer Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. of Montreal for almost $1 billion in the second major takeover of a US company by Canadians in two weeks. The addition of Circle K's 2,000 outlets - most of them in Southern states and Arizona - will give Couche-Tard more than 4,600, making it the fourth-largest such operator in North America. The buyer said it expects to retain most of Circle K's 17,400 employees. Last week, John Hancock Financial Services was acquired by Manulife of Toronto in a $10.4 billion stock-swap deal.

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