Business & Finance

Royal Dutch/Shell will acquire Pennzoil-Quaker State Co. in a deal valued at $1.8 billion, they announced. Shell is the world's third-largest petroleum company; Pennzoil is the top motor-oil producer in the US and owns the Jiffy Lube oil-change chain. A Shell spokeswoman said the acquisition, which is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, would result in 1,200 job cuts.

In a related announcement, Pennzoil said it was dropping Arthur Andersen LLP as its accounting firm. It's the latest in a string of major companies to do so as Andersen faces federal and civil charges related to the Enron Corp. collapse.

AOL Time Warner said it will take a $54 billion charge in the first quarter, believed to be the largest in corporate history. The move, disclosed in an annual regulatory filing, does not affect the online and media giant's earnings. AOL warned in January of a write-off as high as $60 billion due to a sharp decline in the value of last year's purchase of Time Warner.

As many as 316 American products could be slapped with

punitive import tariffs by the European Union next week in retaliation for President Bush's recent decision to protect the US steel industry, the Financial Times reported. The newspaper said the EU tariffs could reach as high as 26 percent above those already in place on items ranging from oranges to underwear to motorbikes. The proposed list is expected to be approved today by the EU's executive commission, with the penalties to take effect beginning April 3. Bush decided March 5 to hike tariffs on most imported steel by 30 percent, drawing howls of protest from exporting nations.

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