In a deal valued at $2.6 billion, carpeting giant Mohawk Industries agreed to acquire laminate flooring manufacturer Unlin Holding NV of Belgium. Mohawk chief executive Jeffrey Lorberbaum said Unlin was attractive because the market for laminate flooring in the US grew by 24 percent between 2003 and 2004 and is expected to expand by another 15 percent a year for the forseeable future. Mohawk's headquarters are in Calhoun, Ga.
Almost $5 billion worth of shares in bullet train operator Central Japan Railway Co. will be sold by the government in the nation's largest initial public offering in four years, reports said. The partial privatization will leave the government with a 13 percent stake in the company, the most profitable of Japan's three main commuter rail lines.
Banking giant ABN Amro Holding will buy a leading operator of mental health clinics, Priory Group, for $1.5 billion in cash and assumption of debt, the companies said. Priory, based in Leatherhead, England, is best known for treating the drug- and alcohol-addiction problems of celebrities.
Struggling Sanyo Electric Co., which makes a broad range of products, from DVD players to refrigerated supermarket cases, announced it will close some assembly plants and cut its workforce by 14,000 people. More than half of the layoffs will affect employees outside Japan. The Osaka company posted an operating loss of $1.5 billion in its fiscal year ending March 31.
Asda Group, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores and the second-largest supermarket chain in Britain, said it will cut 1,000 jobs as part of an effort to "reenergize the business for future success." Asda, based in Leeds, England, has been losing ground to industry leader Tesco as well as to a resurgent Sainsbury's, Britain's third-largest chain.
Without saying how many, telecommunications provider TeliaSonera AB revealed to a financial newspaper that it will eliminate jobs in Sweden over the next three years "because we're in a price war." Details will be released "gradually," a spokeswoman said, as the company seeks to lower operating costs by about $630 million a year. It already has announced plans to lay off 650 employees in Finland. TeliaSonera is based in Stockholm.