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The world's largest maker of appliances, Electrolux of Sweden, posted its fifth straight drop in quarterly profits and warned it may take a $154.4 million charge for closing an assembly plant in the US. But it would not identify the factory or reveal the size of the workforce. That information would be forthcoming only after the employees there been notified, the company said. In addition to its own name, Electrolux markets products under the Eureka, Frigidaire, and Weed Eater brands.

In a $1.6 billion deal, the second-largest utility in Europe bought Midlands Electricity of Britain. The acquisition will give E.On, of Düsseldorf, Germany, an expanded customer base of 2.4 million British households and businesses. Through its Coventry, England, subsidiary, Powergen, E.On already supplies almost one-fifth of Britain's electricity and natural gas.

A $1.75 billion lawsuit was filed by electrical equipment giant Schneider of France against European Union commissioners for blocking its merger with a rival last year, the Financial Times reported. Schneider bought all but 2 percent of Legrande SA, and the sale was upheld by a senior European court. But the proceedings were so costly and took so long that Schneider agreed in December to sell its investment at a loss to a consortium headed by US buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. A European Commission spokeswoman said her agency had acted in good faith in overruling the deal as anticompetitive and would "defend itself very vigorously." Schneider is a world leader in building automated control systems.

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Bankrupt energy supplier Mirant Corp. may borrow $500 million to help expedite its reorganization, a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, ruled Monday, despite objections from major creditors. The decision OK's an immediate $200 million loan, then further $100 million and $200 million installments once Mirant addresses creditor concerns. The Atlanta company and its subsidiaries employ 7,000 people.

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