Business & Finance

The heated takeover battle for oil industry giant Unocal took two new turns, with Chevron Corp. ruling out the possibility of carving up the company if its bid was successful and members of Congress reacting negatively to a Chinese government demand that they "stop interfering" in the matter. Chevron vice chairman Peter Robinson told the Financial Times that his company would not sell Unocal's natural gas assets in Asia to CNOOC, a Chinese offshore oil producer and its rival bidder. Industry analysts have speculated that Chevron, if it wins Unocal, might ease the sensitivities involved by offering those assets to CNOOC. Meanwhile, some of the House members who - on security grounds - have registered their concern at a possible CNOOC takeover, angrily disputed the communist Chinese government's view that the CNOOC pursuit is "a normal commercial activity." A spokesman for Rep. Richard Pombo (R) of California told The Washington Post: "At the very least, [China has] solidified - if not exacerbated - concerns of members of Congress by telling Congress to butt out." (Related opinion, page 9.)

Ford Motor Co. made it unanimous, becoming the last of the Big Three US automakers to offer the general public the same discounted prices on new vehicles that its employees pay. Ford announced Tuesday that its incentive plan, covering almost all 2005 models, would be in effect until Aug. 1. Chrysler said late last week it would offer a plan similar to that pioneered by General Motors. Meanwhile, GM's program, which was to have expired Tuesday, also was extended to Aug. 1. Sales have surged 41 percent since it began in June.

Expanding its reach into Texas, Zions Bancorp agreed to pay $1.7 billion for Amegy Bancorporation Inc. of Houston. Zions, based in Salt Lake City, operates almost 400 branches in eight other Western states.

In a deal valued at $1 billion, Concerto Software Inc. said it will acquire rival Aspect Communications Corp. and take it private. Both companies tailor their products to customer-service call centers. Aspect is based in San Jose, Calif.; Concerto in Westford, Mass.

GE Commercial Finance, the business-to-business unit of General Electric, will buy a portfolio of aircraft leases and loans worth $1 billion from rival CIT Group, the companies said. CIT is based in Livingston, N.J.

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