News In Brief

A multibillion-dollar bidding war appeared to be shaping up for Houston-based insurance carrier American General Corp. despite reports last month that it had agreed to be acquired by Britain's Prudential PLC. The latter was insisting that its deal "remains in full force and effect," and, in fact, its $49-a-share offer is higher than the $46 per share ($23 billion overall) proposed Tuesday by American International Group of New York. But Prudential's stock price has dropped since the takeover announcement March 12, making its offer now worth only about $20 billion, industry analysts said. Prudential PLC is not affiliated with Prudential Insurance Co. of America.

In layoff news:

* Solectron, the world's No. 1 contract-electronics manufacturer, will cut more 1,075 jobs and close a printed-circuit-board plant in Sewanee, Ga., the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The reductions come on top of an announcement last month by the Milpitas, Calif., company that it would slash 8,200 jobs, 10 percent of its workforce.

* Toymaker Mattel Inc. plans to close a plant in Murray, Ky., resulting in 980 job losses, the company said. The plant has made toys for preschoolers under the Fisher-Price brand. The work will be shifted to plants in Mexico.

* Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is considering whether to dismiss 1,000 brokers as part of a plan to save $1 billion, CNN reported. The Wall Street Journal cited another source who said job cuts at the US's No. 3 brokerage could reach 1,500.

* Citigroup, the financial services giant, has laid off "hundreds" of support-staff personnel in the US and Europe amid stock-market jitters. A spokeswoman would not discuss specific numbers.

* Columbia House said it will close its Colorado City, Colo., mail-order CD/video distribution center by Dec. 31, affecting 500 jobs, and its Bloomington, Ind., processing center, which employs 190 people, by July 1. The company operates similar facilities in Mexico, Canada, and Terre Haute, Inc.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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