News In Brief
In a deal valued at $4.05 billion, Shell Chemicals and China's state-owned National Offshore Oil Corp. signed a contract to make ethylene and lower-end petrochemical products, the Xinhua news agency reported. The joint venture is believed to be the largest in Chinese history - the previous record was set earlier this year with Motorola for a $1.9 billion chipmaking complex - and followed 12 years of negotiations. The first output is projected to reach market by 2005. Shell Chemicals is a division of Dutch-British oil giant Royal/Dutch Shell.
DaimlerChrysler said it would shut down seven North American plants for one week to shrink inventories, but denied that the move was linked to its voluntary recall of 1.4 million minivans. The shutdown, which also comes on the heels of disappointing third-quarter earnings for the company, will idle 20,000 employees in the Midwest and Canada.
One of the world's telecommunications giants will announce its own breakup within two weeks, London's Sunday Times reported. The newspaper said British Telecom already is on record as wanting to separate its wholesale division from the rest of the company and also hopes to sell a minority share of its mobile-phone operation for up to $13 billion.
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