By agreeing to take over Chicago-based American National Can Group Inc. for $2.07 billion, Britain's Rexam Plc. will be among the world's top five consumer packaging companies with annual sales of $4.46 billion. The London-based company will be the leading supplier of cans to Coca-Cola - which currently accounts for half of ANC's sales - and also the sole maker for Coors Brewing. ANC, which turns out 40 billion cans a year, is already the biggest canmaker in Europe and is No. 2 in the US.
The key measure of stock-price activity hit its highest level in Tokyo since Christmas Eve 1996 despite news that Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi appeared likely to be incapacitated for an undetermined length of time. The 225-issue Nikkei index closed at 20,727, a 389.67-point gain since last Friday. Analysts attributed much of the increase to results of a quarterly Bank of Japan survey indicating large manufacturers were more confident about the future than during the last previous check in December.
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