Business & Finance

DaimlerChrysler reversed its deep operating loss of two years ago, posting a $1.38 billion profit for 2002, almost half of that due to its US operations. The Chrysler group's profit last year was $640 million, exceeding the break-even point set by its German parent. The automaker reported a $2.29 billion loss for the 2001 business year.

Bertelsmann, the media giant, wouldn't comment on a new lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately helping millions of Napster users to infringe on copyrighted music, the Los Angeles Times reported. The suit, filed on behalf of more than 160,000 songwriters and publishers, seeks $17 billion in damages. At its peak, the Times said, as many as 10,000 pieces of music were copied off Napster per second. Bertelsmann was heavily invested in the online song-swapping site and was trying to buy it until last September, when a bankruptcy court blocked the transaction.

In a merger creating the third-largest US brokerage, Wachovia Corp. and Prudential Financial Inc. agreed to join their securities units. The new company, to be called Wachovia Services, will be based in Richmond, Va., and will have $537 billion in assets. But the partners also said they anticipated 1,750 job cuts and 131 office closures as a result of the linkup. Prudential is the US's No. 1 life insurer. Wachovia is the fifth-largest bank.

Enzon Pharmaceuticals agreed to merge with NPS Pharmaceuticals in a stock deal valued at $1.6 billion. The new company will be based at Enzon's Bridgewater, N.J., headquarters. NPS's headquarters are in Salt Lake City.

Reliant Resources Inc. became the latest US energy trader to exit the European market, agreeing to sell its electricity-generating business in the Netherlands to Dutch utility Nuon NV. But the deal, valued at $1.3 billion, will result in a $900 million charge, reports said. Reliant, which is based in Houston, paid $2.3 billion for the same properties four years ago. TXU Corp. and Mirant Corp. also have sold their European holdings in recent months to help meet debt payments.

In its fourth such acquisition since September, Constellation Energy Group Inc. bought a dozen utility contracts from CMS Energy Corp. of Dearborn, Mich., the Baltimore Sun reported. No price was given for the transaction, which covers customers in Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Virginia. The move furthers Constellation's strategy of snapping up the assets of rivals weakened by the Enron collapse, the newspaper said.

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