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In a deal reportedly worth $2 billion, Prudential Financial is in exclusive negotiations to acquire the retirement business of Cigna Corp., according to the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. Neither company would comment on the report. Cigna, based in Philadelphia, is among the nation's leading health insurers. Prudential is based in Newark.

Aetna's $470 million settlement of a class-action suit in behalf of 950,000 physicians won final approval Friday from a federal court in Miami. Under the deal, doctors who file claims against the insurer will receive between $55 and $165 each for past payment problems. Aetna, based in Hartford, Conn., also agreed to procedural changes to improve the accuracy and speed of such reimbursements. It settled a parallel suit by dentists in August.

Lloyds TSB, a banking giant not related to the world-renowned London insurance exchange, agreed to sell its New Zealand operations Friday to Australia-New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), the Financial Times reported. The deal, valued at $3.45 billion, will make the combined company Australia's largest bank. To help pay for its acquisition, ANZ said it will seek to raise $2.5 billion through a sale of new stock. The sale by Lloyds was its second of a noncore asset in less than a month. Earlier, it disposed of its operations in Brazil to HSBC Bank Canada for $815 million.

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In an 11th-hour effort to derail the merger of two leading precious metals giants, South Africa's Randgold upped its offer for Ashanti Goldfields Ltd. to $1.7 billion - or $300 million more than the latter appeared ready to accept from rival AngloGold Ltd. But industry analysts said the new Randgold bid was unlikely to cause Ashanti to reconsider because it is all in stock and Ashanti's majority shareholders have said they won't negotiate on a deal that isn't in cash. Ashanti's board unanimously recommended acceptance of AngloGold's $1.4 billion bid, which reportedly is final.

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