Business & Finance

With their $25.4 billion merger agreement apparently headed for collapse, Guidant Corp. sued healthcare products giant Johnson & Johnson in federal court Monday, seeking to force completion of the deal. Under terms agreed to in July, the merger was to have closed last Friday. But Johnson & Johnson warned earlier in the week that recalls of some Guidant products - the Indianapolis company makes heart pacemakers and defibrillators - have adversely affected business, triggering a backout clause. Analysts said Guidant's case was not helped by the disclosure Monday that it's under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission on stock-trading and product-disclosure matters.

NBC and CBS jumped into the on-demand programming race Monday, each unveiling plans to make some prime-time shows available for 99 cents per episode, beginning early next year. NBC Universal will make spin-offs of its "Law & Order" franchise and other programs available to homes equipped with DirecTV digital video recorders. CBS will offer "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and other series through cable giant Comcast Corp. For weeks now, rival ABC has offered commercial-free Internet downloads of "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" for $1.99 apiece.

Grokster, the Internet file-sharing service , announced it will shut down its popular movie and music-swapping software. Company executives said Monday they hope to have a "safe and legal service available soon," probably under a new parent company. Grokster's settlement with the recording and movie industries, which includes payment of $50 million in damages, was hastened by a US Supreme Court ruling in June that makes the company, but not its customers, vulnerable to piracy lawsuits.

Ormet Corp., a leading producer of aluminum, said it will close its Hannibal, Ohio, mill by year's end and sell the assets to rival Aleris International Inc. The twin developments will cost 600 employees their jobs, a spokeswoman said. Ormet emerged from bankruptcy last April.

A day after refusing to comment on published reports that it would cut 700 jobs, Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. announced just such a move in an effort to lower operating costs. Another 300 employees on loan to affiliates will be transferred to the latter's payrolls. Fuji Heavy is best known for building Subaru cars and sport/utility vehicles.

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