Business & Finance

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. asked investment banker Goldman Sachs to explore options ranging from an outright sale, to a merger, to buying an equity stake in a promising rival, The Wall Street Journal reported. The pharmaceutical giant is searching for new products amid stiff competition from generic drugs. The move also comes as ImClone, in which Bristol-Myers owns a 20 percent stake, is embroiled in a scandal over alleged insider trading.

Retaliation for the US's 30 percent jump in tariffs on imported steel has been postponed by Japan, the Financial Times reported. It said the Tokyo government was satisfied with the Bush administration's "constructive" decision to consider exemptions to the categories covered by the tariffs that were announced March 5. Earlier this month, the European Union signaled it wouldn't retaliate against American imports either while the Bush administration considers a similar set of exemptions.

Troubled Tyco International won the OK for an initial public offering on its lending unit, CIT Group, from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). How well that offering succeeds may be critical for the Bermuda-based conglomerate, whose debt rating was cut to junk status by Moody's Investors Service Wednesday. Tyco is being investigated by the SEC after its former chief was indicted in New York on tax-evasion charges.

Exxon Mobil filed a motion to reduce its $5 billion fine for the 1989 oil spill at Valdez, Alaska, to no more than $40 million. The filing, in federal court in Anchorage, Alaska, came ahead of a June 17 deadline. An appeals court ruled last November that the fine for the spill, the worst in US history, was excessive.

Del Monte Foods, the largest US distributor of canned fruits and vegetables, announced it will launch a new company featuring brands spun off by ketchup giant H.J. Heinz. The deal involves StarKist tuna, College Inn broths, 9-Lives cat food, Kibbles 'n Bits dog chow, and other products as well as about 5,000 employees who produce them and more than $1 billion in Heinz debt. Heinz is based in Pittsburgh; Del Monte in San Francisco.

Verizon Communications plans to cut more than 900 jobs in New England this summer, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported. New York-based Verizon is the largest US local telephone service provider.

Another 17,000 jobs must be cut because of a record $1.6 billion loss last year, Consignia, the government-controlled British postal service, said. The layoffs come on top of 15,000 announced in March. Consignia currently employs about 200,000 people.

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