Business & Finance

In acquiring Sears Roebuck for $12.3 billion, Kmart said their merger would not result in a wave of store closings and layoffs. Kmart Holding Corp. chairman Edward Lampert also denied late Thursday that the Lands' End clothing brand, which Sears owns, is for sale. The merged company will be known as Sears Holdings Corp. and will be based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., Sears' headquarters. The combined operation employs 400,000 people, is projected to do $55 billion in annual sales, and is the nation's third-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Blockbuster Inc., the nation's leading movie-rental chain, allowed its hostile takeover attempt for rival Hollywood Entertainment Corp. to expire Friday and said it will not bid again. Blockbuster had offered about $985 million, but ran into resistance from Hollywood's directors and the Federal Trade Commission, which voiced concerns about the effect on rental prices if the companies fused. With Blockbuster bowing out, Movie Gallery Inc., the industry's third-largest chain, is expected to land Hollywood with a $900 million offer.

For the fourth time since 1999, the deeply indebted government of Italy will sell part of the nation's largest utility, Enel, the Finance Ministry said Friday. It didn't predict what it expects the privatization of another 11.5 percent of the company to raise, but analysts valued it at about $6 billion. That would cut the government's stake in Enel to 20 percent. Three previous privatizations have raised more than $34 billion. The government also said it plans to sell off part of RAI, the state-owned radio-TV network. To bring its national debt within the 60 percent of gross domestic product required for membership in the European Union, Italy has been relying on asset sales because the economy hasn't grown fast enough to produce sufficient tax revenue. Its cumulative debt at the end of last year was almost 106 percent of GDP.

TeliaSonera, the largest telecommunications operator in the Nordic-Baltic region, said Friday it will pay $3.1 billion to raise its stake in Turkey's No. 1 cellphone service provider. The investment gives TeliaSonera just under 65 percent control of Turkcell, which has about 24 million subscribers.

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