Business & Finance

Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed to acquire Newport News Shipbuilding Inc. for $2.1 billion in cash and stock, ending a prolonged takeover battle that will create the world's largest builder of warships. Northrop Grumman also will assume $500 million in Newport News debt. The deal comes six days after the Justice Department cleared the way by closing an investigation of the proposed deal. Rival defense contractor General Dynamics ended its efforts to acquire Newport News last month after defense officials announced they'd block the bid.

Bridgestone/Firestone was expected to announce it will pay $41.5 million to head off lawsuits over defective tires the company recalled more than a year ago. Each of the 50 states, plus Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands will get $500,000 from the settlement, according to reports, with no restrictions on how the money can be spent. State attorneys general have been investigating whether the company and Ford were aware of problems with Firestone tires on Ford Explorers, before the recall of 6.5 million tires was announced in 2000. Since then, investigators have documented 271 deaths linked to accidents involving the tires and Ford Explorers.

Less than two months after its financial collapse, Ansett, the No. 2 airline in Australia, will be sold to private investors for $1.8 billion, reports said. Lindsay Fox and Solomon Lew, two of the nation's most prominent business leaders, also plan to spend $1.3 billion on upgrading the carrier's aging fleet. The new owners reportedly expect to rehire 4,000 of Ansett's 16,000 former employees.

Another 1,500 jobs in the US will be cut by Alcatel, the French telecommunications giant said. The new layoffs, expected to be completed over the next eight months, will bring to 6,500 the number the company has let go since Jan. 1. Alcatel also has cut 28,000 jobs in other parts of the world. It reported a $533 million third-quarter loss.

A union rejection of Volkswagen's plan to save jobs in Brazil by cutting back wages and hours backfired, with the automaker announcing it will lay off 3,000 workers Monday. The company had proposed a 15 percent reduction in both areas because of a nationwide slump in vehicle sales. Other automakers in Brazil have put their staffs on paid leave to cut production.

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