News In Brief

The retail banking division of Mellon Financial Corp. agreed to be acquired by Citizens Financial Group for $2.1 billion. The deal makes Citizens one of the US's 20 largest commercial banks, with 750 branches in seven states. The purchase includes Pittsburgh-based Mellon's businesses in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Virginia. Citizens is the US division of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

USA Networks will pay $1.5 billion to acquire a controlling stake in online travel site Expedia Inc., the companies announced. New York-based USA Networks, run by media magnate Barry Diller, also plans to launch a cable channel devoted to travel this year. As part of the deal, Diller also acquires National Leisure Group Inc., an online travel firm. Expedia was launched by Microsoft in 1996, but the latter had committed to selling its stake to focus on its core business.

In a $5.5 billion deal, BP (British Petroleum) said it would acquire controlling interest in Veba Oel, operator of the largest chain of gas stations in Germany. The deal will result in roughly 1,500 jobs cuts, a senior BP executive said.

Comdisco Inc. said it will file for federal bankruptcy protection, sell its technology services business to Hewlett-Packard for $610 million, and cut 200 more jobs. The Rosemont, Ill., company, which leases computer, medical, telecommunications, and other high-tech equipment, said it was still hobbling from last year's technology-stock crash.

In other layoff developments:

* Up to 5,500 more jobs will be cut by Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, which announced an unexpectedly large $655 million loss for the second quarter. The company said in late June that it would lay off more than 1,200 jobs in the process of abandoning cellphone production.

* Duetsche Post, the German mail and package delivery giant, said it will cut another 3,000 jobs on top of the 8,000 announced in May.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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