Business & Finance

Boeing Co. won a major new order for up to 31 of its long-haul 777-300 passenger jets from Singapore Airlines, a deal valued at about $7.3 billion. The carrier will take delivery of 18 of the 350-seat planes beginning in 2006, with an option for 13 more. Some analysts, however, saw the deal as a disappointment for Boeing since the buyer considered, but decided against, the aerospace giant's new 7E7 Dreamliner, a plane that is being promoted as more fuel-efficient than any other on the market. Singapore Airlines said, without elaborating, that the 7E7 "did not meet [our] financial criteria."

Toronto-Dominion Bank appeared on the brink of buying a controlling stake in Banknorth, which operates more than 300 branches in New England, the Financial Times reported, citing sources close to their "advanced discussions." The newspaper said estimates put the sale price between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion in cash and stock. Such a deal would make Toronto-Dominion the first in Canada to enter the US branch-banking business at a time when all of its major competitors are seeking to break out of the domestic market. Last year, it pursued the possibility of offering checking and savings services at Wal-Mart stores in both countries until regulatory complications arose. Banknorth is based in Portland, Maine.

Citigroup, which has long had an eye on the fast-growing Texas market, announced Tuesday it is buying First American Bank of Bryan, one of the state's largest independent financial institutions. The latter operates more than 100 branches. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Royal Dutch/Shell's problems now include $150 million in fines imposed by US and British regulators, for what the latter called "unprecedented misconduct" stemming from the overstating earlier this year of oil and natural gas reserves. The company also agreed to spend $5 million to improve "internal compliance" measures, The Washington Post reported. In announcing the penalties, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Britain's Financial Services Authority both said their investigations were continuing into the roles that specific persons in the company played in the matter. The furor already has cost several senior Shell executives their jobs. Meanwhile, the issue remains under a separate investigation by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

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