Business & Finance

The competition between Boeing and rival Airbus for new-plane orders picked up steam as the Paris Air Show drew closer to its conclusion. Boeing announced deals with Alaska Airlines and Air Europa of Spain for 53 narrow-body 737 jets - worth $3.5 billion at list prices - with an option for 15 more. Airbus countered with an order from Indian start-up carrier IndiGo for 100 of its A320s. That deal normally would be worth $6 billion, although airlines usually negotiate discounts from the catalog price when they buy in volume. Airbus also was expected to announce other orders, among them one from Brazilian carrier TAM, by the close of the show.

In a merger of pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer Inc. will acquire Vicuron Inc. for $1.9 billion. Pfizer is based in New York, Vicuron in King of Prussia, Pa.

Omnicare Inc., a leading provider of prescription drugs for the elderly, raised its offer for rival NeighborCare to $1.7 billion. The companies have been engaged in a hostile takeover fight for more than a year. Omnicare is based in Covington, Ky.; NeighborCare in Baltimore.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, the prescription drugmaker, agreed Wednesday to pay $300 million to defer accounting-related charges brought by the US Attorney's Office in New Jersey. The deal raises the total the company will have paid to settle lawsuits and investigations into its practices to $800 million. Bristol-Myers Squibb has been accused of failing to disclose relevant information to shareholders that would have affected its stock price.

In a deal valued at $1.8 billion, utility giant E.On of Germany said it will sell its pipeline/metering subsidiary Ruhrgas Industries to the London private equity firm CVC Capital Partners Ltd.

Eastman Kodak Co. said it will stop producing paper for the black-and-white prints prized by fine-art photographers and serious hobbyists, the latest move in its focus on digital-imaging products. The company will continue to make film for black-and-white photography and chemicals for processing.

Colgate-Palmolive Co. said it will close a soapmaking plant in Kansas City, Kansas, next year that employs 250 people. The facility's operations will be outsourced. The plant occupies the site where Peet Brothers Soap Co., a progenitor of the Palmolive empire, opened in 1872.

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