News In Brief

A bidding war for Bestfoods, the maker of Mazola corn oil, Hellmann's mayonnaise, Skippy peanut butter, and other nationally known brands, appeared possible, analysts said, after the company rejected an $18.4 billion takeover offer by European marketing giant Unilever Plc. Unilever urged the Englewood Cliffs, N.J., company to reconsider. Last September, Bestfoods discussed a merger with H.J. Heinz Co. Unilever bought US ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's and SlimFast Foods Co. last month.

Nasdaq officials signed a letter of intent to link up with the newly announced "megabourse" formed by the London and Frankfurt stock exchanges. The merger, to be called International Exchanges, or iX, will be based in London. But European growth stocks will be traded in the German city in cooperation with the technology-heavy Nasdaq. Nasdaq previously had planned to set up its own Internet-based European network in London. (Story, page 7.)

NiSource Inc., the parent company of Bay State Gas in Massachusetts and Northern Indiana Public Service Co., announced it will try to sell $1 billion in noncore businesses to squeeze more profits from its takeover of Columbia Energy Group. Such a sale, which would involve assets of both companies, would also raise money for the $6 billion merger that was agreed to in February. NiSource is based in Merrillville, Ind.; Columbia in Herndon, Va.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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