Business & Finance

A chorus of criticism greeted the announcement that two large but unrelated French corporations, government-owned Snecma and employee-owned Sagem SA, would merge in a deal valued at $8.9 billion. Snecma (Société Nationale d'Étude de Construction de Moteurs d'Avion) is the world's fourth-largest builder of aircraft and rocket engines and landing gear. Sagem makes cellphones, fax machines, and other electronics mostly for the communications industry. Analysts saw the merger as a way for the government to turn a quick profit on Snecma, which was partially privatized earlier this year. The government denied orchestrating the merger. Both companies are based in Paris.

BAE Systems PLC, the largest defense contractor in Europe, won a $1.14 billion contract to build all-steel combat-ready tracked vehicles for the Dutch military, Bloomberg.com reported.

In new layoff announcements:

• MT Picture Display Corp. of America said it is cutting 1,100 jobs - 800 of them by closing its Horseheads, N.Y., factory, where cathode ray tubes for large-screen TV sets are manufactured. The remaining jobs will be trimmed at its sister plant in Troy, Ohio. The company, formed in 1985 as a joint venture of Westinghouse Electric and Toshiba, now is a subsidiary of Japan's Matsushita Toshiba Picture Display Co.

• Tenneco Automotive Inc., which makes shock absorbers and exhaust systems, will eliminate 250 jobs, mostly at the middle and senior management levels, by the end of next April, it announced late last week. The Lake Forest, Ill., company has 74 factories in 22 countries and will combine its operations in Australia and New Zealand with its Asian unit as part of the restructuring.

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