News In Brief

Merger negotiations that would have created the world's largest recorded-music company were called off by EMI Group and Bertelsmann, the German media conglomerate. The two sides cited insurmountable regulatory obstacles. Among EMI's stable of star artists are Garth Brooks, Van Morrison, and the Spice Girls. Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, and the Backstreet Boys are top names under contract to Bertelsmann.

Electric utility Reliant Resources has raised $1.56 billion in one of the year's largest new stock offerings, a spokeswoman said. Houston-based Reliant will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RRI.

Georgia-Pacific has agreed to sell four paper mills to Montreal-based Domtar Inc. for $1.5 billion and will use the proceeds to pay down debt, the company announced.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, the largest bottler of Coca-Cola products, said it will buy Hondo Inc. and Herbco Enterprises Inc., collectively known as Herb Coca-Cola, for $1.4 billion. Herb, the No. 3 bottler of Coke products, operates in Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, and Rochester, N.Y., among other cities. Coca-Cola Enterprises is 40 percent owned by Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and markets 22 percent of the beverage giant's products worldwide.

In layoff news:

* Dow Chemical said it will cut 4,500 jobs in a move to push savings from its takeover of Union Carbide to $1.1 billion.

* Nextel Communications, the largest independent US mobile phone operator, said it will lay off about 850 employees.

* ABN Amro, the Dutch multinational bank, said it will cut 500 more jobs - 300 of them in the US. The layoffs come on top of 7,000 announced in February.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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