News In Brief

The owner of North America's biggest natural-gas pipeline system, El Paso Energy Corp., agreed to acquire energy company Coastal Corp. in a deal valued at about $16 billion. Both companies are based in Houston. The combined entity would move more gas than any other company in the world. It also would be the third-largest US gas producer, behind BP Amoco Plc. and Exxon Mobil.

Fast-expanding JDS Uniphase Corp. announced it will acquire rival fiber-optic equipment maker E-TEK Dynamics Inc. But analysts said the $15 billion all-stock deal could run into regulatory objections because the companies already hold dominant positions in their industry. JDS, based jointly in San Jose, Calif., and the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Ontario, bought Optical Coating Laboratory Inc. in November and Oprel Technologies Inc. last month. E-TEK's headquarters also are in San Jose.

The No. 2 operator of nursing homes in the US, Mariner Post-Acute Network, is expected to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, The Dallas Morning News reported. Earnings for the Atlanta-based company were off more than $1.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, an official close to Mariner told the newspaper. The company operates 404 licensed facilities with 47,400 beds and 55,000 employees. Two other long-term care chains, Vencor Inc. and Sun Healthcare Group, also have filed for bankruptcy protection in the past six months.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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