Business & Finance

Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to a $100 million fine and to separate pay for its stock analysts from investment banking deals under a settlement with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer, who's investigating alleged conflicts of interest at several other major Wall Street brokerages as well, said he hoped to use the agreement as a model to pursue industrywide reforms.

Hoping to persuade Northrop Grumman Corp. to raise its $6.68 billion buyout offer, TRW Inc., the Cleveland-based defense contractor and auto-parts supplier, set a deadline of tomorrow for bids on its aeronautical systems unit, The Wall Street Journal reported. Northrop Grumman has indicated it would sell off that division as well as TRW's automotive operation if a deal goes through.

Citigroup Inc. said it plans to buy Golden State Bancorp in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $5.8 billion. Purchase of the San Francisco-based thrift institution would greatly increase the West Coast presence of Citigroup, the US's largest financial-services firm, analysts said. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

ConAgra, the food-processing giant, will earn $1.4 billion from the sale of majority control of its meats division to Dallas buyout specialist Hick, Muse, Tate & Furst Inc., an announcement said. The deal includes fresh-beef and pork operations in Greeley, Colo., and Brisbane, Australia. A Hicks, Muse spokesman said the business would operate under the traditional name Swift & Co. and be based in Greeley.

A new round of job cuts was announced by Siemens, the German engineering conglomerate. The company said it will lay off 7,000 employees from its industrial solutions and services division and sell off the unit's noncore activities. Siemens reduced its workforce by about 15,000 people last year.

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