News In Brief

A decision on imposing US tariffs on steel wire rods now rests with President Clinton. The International Trade Commission, an independent fact-finding agency, recommended that 15 percent tariffs be ordered on wire rods, the type of steel used to make fencing, coat hangers, and other products. The tariffs would cover wire-rod shipments from all countries except Canada, Mexico, Israel, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru - although certain specialty grades would be exempt. Findings of the commission are not binding on the president.

A massive takeover offer worth just under $43 billion was issued by the French energy group TotalFina for rival Elf Aquitaine. The straight stock deal, if eventually successful, would result in the world's fourth-largest oil company behind Exxon, BP-Amoco, and Royal Dutch/Shell. Senior Elf Aquitaine executives, who'd tried unsuccessfully to acquire Norway's Saga Petroleum last month, called the TotalFina bid "hostile" and not in the best interests of stockholders. Industry analysts said they expected a protracted battle that was likely to draw in non-French bidders such as Royal Dutch/Shell or Chevron of the US.

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