News In Brief

Oil-refining giant Valero is to buy rival Ultramar Diamond Shamrock for $4.03 billion in cash and stock, reports said. If approved by stockholders and regulators, the deal between the two San Antonio, Texas, companies would create the US's largest independent refiner, giving Valero 1.87 million barrels a day of capacity and ownership of 5,350 gasoline stations.

Williams Companies, a Tulsa, Okla., energy trader, is in discussions to buy natural-gas producer Barrett Resources Corp. of Denver for $2.3 billion in cash and assumption of $300 million in debt, The Wall Street Journal reported. Barrett owns or operates almost 3,500 wells in the Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and Gulf of Mexico. In March, Shell Oil bid $2 billion for Barrett, prompting directors to put the company up for sale in a formal auction. Shell later upped its original bid but chose not to participate in formal bidding.

BancWest Corp. was offered $2.45 billion for its remaining shares not already owned by France's BNP Paribas and has recommended to stockholders that they accept, reports said. Paris-based BNP Paribas is the world's 10th largest bank in terms of assets. BancWest, a holding company with headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii, is 45 percent owned by BNP Paribas.

US Bancorp said it will pay $2.1 billion for NOVA Corp., a processor of credit card transactions for more than 500,000 banks and merchants. US Bancorp (formerly Firstar Corp.) is based in Minneapolis; NOVA in Atlanta.

Weyerhaeuser Co. again upped its hostile-takeover bid for forest-products rival Willamette Industries of Portland, Ore., by $219 million to about $5.5 billion. The Federal Way, Wash.-based company began its pursuit of Willamette at $5.3 billion last November, raising the bid to $5.4 billion two weeks later.

3Com Corp. announced across-the-board layoffs of 3,000 more employees, or 30 percent of its work force. The cuts are part of a plan announced March by the Santa Clara, Calif., maker of networking equipment to reduce expenses by $1 billion. In February, the company said it would lay off about 1,200 workers.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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