News In Brief

In a $12.5 billion deal announced jointly in New York and Mexico City, Citigroup agreed to merge with Grupo Finan-ciero Banamex-Accival, a financial services giant better known as Banacci. The deal is subject to regulatory approval in both countries. Citigroup's holdings already comprise Citibank, Salomon Smith Barney, and Travelers Insurance, among others. Banacci, one of Mexico's largest banks, also is a securities broker and offers insurance, credit card, and pension-management services.

Alcoa, the world's No. 1 aluminum producer, said it will close a smelter in Ferndale, Wash., and sell the electricity the plant would have consumed back to the federal Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) until October. After Oct. 1, Alcoa will forgo 90 percent of its electricity use for two more years to help the struggling authority meet soaring demands in the Northwest. In exchange, BPA has agreed to pay the wages and benefits of 900 workers idled by the deal. Last month, BPA asked 10 smelters, among the region's heaviest consumers of electricity, to close for up to two years.

Cone Mills Corp. said it will cut 575 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce. The Greensboro, N.C., company makes denim for Levis jeans. Its announcement came hours after another textiles maker, Pillowtex Corp., said it would close plants in North Carolina and Georgia and cut 780 jobs as part of a restructuring under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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