Business & Finance

Wachovia Corp. announced it will pay $14.3 billion for SouthTrust Corp., one of the nation's stronger regional banking companies. SouthTrust, based in Birmingham, Ala., and long thought to be a prime takeover target, has 717 branches in nine states. But it was most attractive because of its presence in Texas, the state with the second-largest population and into which Wachovia indicated in February it wants to expand. Wachovia is the No. 4 US bank, behind Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Bank of America. Its headquarters are in Charlotte, N.C.

For the second time in two months, the Carlyle Group agreed to buy controlling interest in a telecommunications company. The Washington private equity firm and a partner, electronics manufacturer Kyocera Corp., said they'd pay $2 billion for DDI Pocket, the wireless data-services provider of KDDI, Japan's second-largest phone company. Carlyle will get 60 percent and Kyocera 30 percent of the company. Kyocera, also Japanese, has been DDI Pocket's chief equipment supplier. Last month, Carlyle bought Verizon's land-line, Internet access, and phone-directory unit in Hawaii for $1.65 billion.

Telstra Corp., the largest telephone service provider in Australia, said it will buy back $3.1 billion worth of its own stock, the second year in a row it has made such a move.

Bacardi Ltd., one of the world's leading makers and sellers of alcoholic beverages, announced Sunday that it will buy the Grey Goose premium vodka brand from Sidney Frank Importing Co. of New Rochelle, N.Y. Terms were not made public, but the deal was thought to be worth $2 billion. Bacardi, a privately held company, is based in Bermuda.

To reduce its dependence on corporate loans, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, the No. 3 bank in Japan, will pay $1.84 billion for a minority stake in Promise Co., a leading lender to individual consumers, the Bloomberg.com news service reported. The deal extends a trend in which Japan's largest financial institutions have been turning to the $96 billion-a-year individual borrower market to help increase their profits.

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