Business & Finance

In a $13 billion "merger of equals," Alberta Energy Co. and PanCanadian Energy Corp. announced they will unite to form the world's largest independent producer of oil and gas. Both are based in Calgary, Alberta. If shareholders and regulators approve, the new company will remain there and be renamed EnCana Corp. Between them, the partners have developed assets or are exploring in western Canada, off Nova Scotia, in the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, the US's Rocky Mountains, off West Africa, and in Libya, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, the Caspian Sea, and Australia. Independent energy companies explore for and pump oil and gas but do not refine or market them.

Toys "R" Us Inc. will cut 1,900 jobs and shut 64 stores in a restructuring program, the company announced. The company expects to take $126 million in after-tax charges on its fourth-quarter results. Paramus, N.J.-based Toys "R" Us and its Kids "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, and Imaginarium divisions currently comprise 1,609 outlets in the US and overseas.

OfficeMax said it will not close as many stores as originally planned. The Shaker Heights, Ohio-based company announced that instead of 40 stores, it will close 29 due to improved sales in the fourth quarter at outlets that have been open for at least a year - a key measure of a retailer's viability. OfficeMax will take a $100 million charge in the fourth quarter for the closings and to write off some assets. The chain operates about 1,000 stores in 49 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, as well as joint ventures in Mexico and Brazil.

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