News In Brief

The long-anticipated merger between pharmaceutical giants SmithKline Beecham and Glaxo Wellcome Plc., both of Britain, more than likely will spawn a new round of takeovers in the industry, analysts said. The companies said they'll combine forces in a deal valued at $182.4 billion. The new company, to be called Glaxo SmithKline, will have about $17.5 billion in annual sales. Together the companies employ 107,000 people, although the merger will result in an unspecified number of layoffs, they said. A spokesman for SmithKline hinted the company may pursue other merger possibilities, and US drugmakers Pfizer and Warner-Lambert also are believed close to a deal.

A buying surge pushed the Nikkei index to a 2-1/2-year high on the Tokyo stock market. The 225-issue indicator closed yesterday's trading at 19,437, its best since Aug. 8, 1997, and was led by shares in Japan's leading brokerage houses and high-tech companies. The 480-point gain followed a 123-point increase last Friday.

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