Business & Finance

It's westward, ho, for MidAmerican Energy Holdings, the largest utility in Iowa, which Monday bought PacifiCorp, a unit of ScottishPower PLC, which is based in Glasgow, Scotland. MidAmerican said that acquiring the six-state power company for $5.1 billion in cash and $4.3 billion in debt and preferred stock will create a holding company serving about 3 million electric and natural gas customers in 10 states and 6.6 million customers worldwide. PacifiCorp will continue operating as Pacific Power in Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and northern California, and as Utah Power in Utah and Idaho. PacifiCorp is based in Portland, Ore.; MidAmerican, which is controlled by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Palestinian stock market has been on a tear in recent months, boosted by some local companies' encouraging earnings, a four-month cease-fire with Israel, and what appears to be a classic case of get-rich-quick fever. In Nablus, women have even begun selling off their jewelry to get a piece of the action. Although the Palestine Securities Exchange is tiny, with only 26 companies listed and a total market capitalization of $2.7 billion, the trends are all positive. The benchmark index has nearly tripled this year - to 721 - and trading volume during the daily two-hour session is nearly $8 million, up from $822,000 a year earlier. With shares rising, investors overseas, particularly Palestinians living abroad, have begun to pour into the market, utilizing the exchange's electronic trading system and its alliance with global banking giant HSBC Holdings PLC, which enables foreigners to buy Palestinian shares.

The US Navy has awarded Raytheon Co., of Waltham, Mass., a $3 billion contract to develop radar, electronic, and weapons systems for a new class of destroyers envisioned as the high-tech future of the US fleet. The Navy had sought to award production of the destroyer to a single shipbuilder in a winner-take-all process, but Congress vetoed that approach in favor of sharing the work.

The European Union has given Microsoft Corp. until

June 1 to comply with its antitrust order or face punitive sanctions. The dispute stems from what regulators consider the software maker's recalcitrance in providing server source code to competitors, and on EU doubts on whether the Windows without Media Player version that Microsoft was forced to produce is fully up to standard.

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