Business & Finance

With contract negotiations stalled, the Communications Workers of America was expected to notify SBC Communications of San Antonio, the nation's No. 2 local phone company, Tuesday of its intent to strike. Officers of the 100,000-member union accused SBC, which has operations in 13 states, of failing to respond "in an effective way" to concerns about job security and other issues. After a 24-hour waiting period, CWA members could walk off the job without further notice. The sides have been trying to hammer out a new contract to replace one that expired April 3.

Aluminum industry giant Alcan Inc. said it will spin off its rolled products division to shareholders, a move made necessary by the $4.7 billion takeover earlier this year of French metals company Pechiney. The new freestanding business, to be renamed later, will have 10,000 employees and revenues of $6 billion a year. It will be the world's largest maker of such items as beverage cans. Alcan is based in Montreal.

In an all-cash deal valued at $2.7 billion, the largest bio-technology company in Britain agreed to be acquired by UCB of Belgium, a manufacturer of specialty chemicals that has been seeking to expand its own pharmaceuticals business. The merger with Celltech Group PLC makes the combined company the biotech industry's fifth largest in terms of revenue and gives the buyer a range of medications for heart disease, cancer, and arthritis to market. Celltech is based in Slough, England.

Advanced Micro Devices, a leading maker of memory chips, said it will build a $2.5 billion plant in Dresden, Germany, which would be one of the largest corporate investments in that nation's formerly communist and economically depressed eastern region in a decade, the Financial Times reported. Advanced Micro Devices is based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Lucent Technologies Inc., the telecommunications equipment manufacturer, was fined $25 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to cooperate sufficiently in a probe of its accounting practices. The company, based in Murray Hill, N.J., voluntarily informed the SEC of its accounting problems four years ago and acknowledged in March that it anticipated being penalized. Nine former and current Lucent executives also were charged with violations of securities laws.

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