Business & Finance

Delta Air Lines became the latest high-profile client to announce it is dropping Arthur Andersen LLP as its auditor. Subject to shareholder approval, the US's No. 2 carrier said its board had appointed Deloitte & Touche to succeed Andersen. The troubled accounting firm, which is involved in wide-ranging investigations into its role in the Enron collapse, lost congressionally chartered mortgage giant Freddie Mac as a client on Wednesday.

The New York Stock Exchange is in negotiations to buy its smaller Manhattan rival, the American Stock Exchange (ASE), the Financial Times reported. The National Association of Securities Dealers, which owns the ASE, has been trying to sell it for months and has held discussions with European exchanges as well.

Publicis, one of the world's largest advertising and media services agencies, will merge with Chicago-based Bcom3 Group, the companies announced. The $3 billion all-stock deal comes at a time when advertising revenues are in a slump. But analysts said it will give Paris-based Publicis a foothold in the US as well as an inside track in the difficult-to-penetrate Japanese market since Bcom3 is almost one-quarter owned by the Tokyo media services conglomerate Dentsu Inc.

Agway Inc., the giant agricultural cooperative, will sell off four divisions to concentrate on core businesses, its chief executive officer said. Potential buyers were not identified for the company's insurance, leasing, turf, and crop protectant units, which employ 800 people. DeWitt, N.Y.-based Agway serves 69,000 members, mainly in the Northeast.

Procter & Gamble said it will cut 750 jobs in its Clairol hair-care products division, closing a distribution center in Edison, N.J., and manufacturing plants in Peru, Venezuela, and Britain to consolidate operations. Cincinnati-based P&G acquired Clairol in November.

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