Business & Finance

Accenture Ltd. won a US contract worth up to $10 billion to develop a system of "electronic borders" to track US visitors in hopes of quickly targeting potential terrorists. The Bermuda-based technology consultancy was awarded the contract Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security. Accenture subsidiaries, Ratheon Corp. of Lexington, Mass., and Titan Corp. of San Diego, will help build the US-Visit program, which would give US customs officials "instant access" to intelligence. The contract was criticized Wednesday by some military analysts because of bribery allegations leveled at Titan.

Merrill Lynch could earn $6.4 billion for its money-management division, according to financial analysts, depending on the outcome of reported posible sale discussions. The New York Times reported Thursday that Merrill Lynch is considering selling a large share of the subsidiary to Baltimore's Legg Mason.

Seagate Technology will cut 2,900 jobs, the manufacturer of computer disk-drives said Wednesday. The decision to slash 7 percent of its workforce comes amid decreased demand for computer storage units and an increasingly competitive worldwide market. The cut is a part of a cost-saving measure to reduce operating costs by $150 billion at the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based company.

SABMiller, Britain's largest brewery, appeared ready to yield in its bidding war with Anheuser-Busch for control of China'a Harbin Brewery, according to an unconfirmed Reuters report. The two foreign brewers have been scrambling to gain a foothold in the world's largest beer market by volume, but according to the Reuters account, SABMiller was ready to withdraw its $550 million bid after Harbin's board endorsed Anheuser-Busch's latest $720 million bid on Wednesday.

Billionaire retail investor Philip Green plans to offer

$12.5 billion to acquire Marks & Spencer Plc., the UK's largest seller of clothing. CBS Marketwatch reported Thursday. Green's other fashion holdings include the Acrdia Group, an apparel chain with 2,000 stores.

In a response to growing competition from Wal-Mart and Tesco stores, Aeon, Japan's largest retailer, announced plans Wednesday to build 172 large-scale supermarkets by 2008, according to Bloomberg.com.

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